Primary Producers SA is calling on the State Government to conduct an independent review of water management costs across the whole system following the announcement of proposed large increases to natural resource management levies for farmers in some regions.
The call comes as State Cabinet prepares to travel to the South East for Community Cabinet this weekend, where Premier Jay Weatherill and Ministers will hear first‐hand of the deep concerns of South East landholders towards plans for large rises to NRM levies.
Primary Producers SA executive chairman Rob Kerin says the review would include Natural Resource Management Boards and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
“PPSA’s NRM Committee has met with DEWNR officers regarding the levy issues,” he said. “The plans to collect many millions of dollars more through NRM Boards to help fund the operations of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has outraged many landholders.
“After the drainage debate, Emergency Services Levy increases of up to 1000 percent and drought across much of the region there is significant anger about the extra impost.
“There is a real need to examine the costs being incurred, efficiency and transparency of water management. We need to know that we are getting value for money. When we talk cost recovery we need to know what we are getting for our money. These cost increases are further shaking farmer confidence in NRM, and there is a need for far greater transparency.”
Mr Kerin said the report of the independent review must be made public.
“The PPSA NRM Committee has also raised concerns as to how the increases have been handled and the fact that NRM Boards seem to be the ones forced to justify DEWNR expenditure and work out how the money will be raised,” he said.
“In addition to the water management cost recovery, there has also been a significant rise in ‘corporate service’ charges. The NRM Boards have been asked to pay a lot more to DEWNR for staff on‐costs rand this may also be added to NRM levies for landholders across the state.”