Thursday, 1 June 2023
MEMBER for the Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has called on the State Government to come clean about its future plans for the land management codes applying to NSW farmers, with rumours circulating about proposals to tighten them as well as the forestry codes.
Mr Marshall used Parliament yesterday to put down a number of questions on the notice paper to Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty requesting her to clear the air and provide certainty to the State’s farming community.
“Last time Labor was in power, farmers were saddled with the punitive and destructive Native Vegetation Act 2003, which prevented farmers doing basic farm management activities on their properties, stopped them controlling the mass expansion of woody weeds and treated farmers little better than gangland thugs – guilty until proven innocent – putting many through the courts for the crime of managing their own land,” Mr Marshall said.
“The impact on some was extreme and it undermined public confidence in our farmers who work relentlessly to feed and clothe us while also preserving the environment. Far more damage to biodiversity has been done from out-of-control bushfires in national parks than is done by modern farmers.
“It was an enormous victory for farmers and common sense when the new Biodiversity Act 2016 was brought in, putting a stop to a decade of regulatory chaos and overreach, and paving the way forward for practical management with appropriate, clearly understood and licensed activities overseen by Local Land Services working with farmers and the broader bureaucracy.
“Farmers are some of the best managers of land on the planet – their very livelihoods depend on it and as we see the climate changing more rapidly and more aggressively than before with drought and flood cycles, we need their expertise more than ever.
“In fact the framework that has been in place since 2016 has assisted in the development of more modern practices, including more farmers actively seeking out and protecting biodiversity and steps towards the development of on-farm ‘natural capital’ policies – which is about understanding and rewarding biodiversity and on-farm carbon which is abundant in trees, pasture and crops.”
Mr Marshall said the Minister must not return agriculture to the dark ages of the Native Vegetation Act which did nothing to protect biodiversity and instead commit to maintaining the current regulatory framework.
“Any changes would be a backward step – it’s already a cause for concern that regulatory mapping was released last year with very little consultation with farmers, which gives their land certain designations without their knowledge or consent, something many previous Agriculture Ministers ensured would not be the case,” Mr Marshall said.
“Farmers are able to appreciate they may have particular biodiversity on their farms and are usually the ones quietly protecting it without fanfare– that is very different from Government then telling them how to farm entirely.
“Maintaining the status quo requires absolutely nothing of the Minister other than stating that the rules will remain the same.
“This is a government that is happy to rush through constitutional protection for city-dwellers’ water, so farmers, at the very least, deserve clarity and consistency when it comes to their farms and farming practices.”
The Minister for Agriculture has 35 calendar days to respond in writing to the Parliament to Mr Marshall’s question.
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture:
In relation to the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018,
(1) Does the Government have any plans to amend, repeal or weaken any of the provisions in the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018?
(a) If yes, what changes will be made and why and when will this be communicated to landholders and the general public?
(2) Will you continue to publicly publish, on a regular basis, data of approvals, set asides and other activities conducted by landholders under the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018?
(3) Do you have any plans to grant concurrence to regulatory mapping for productive rural land?
31 May 2023