Major shake-up for DPI

It is goodbye to Catchment Management and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities. They are to be eliminated in a major shake-up in the provision of agricultural and catchment management services in NSW. This means a Major shake-up for the Department of Primary Industries.

It is understood the new structure would be responsible for:

  • Agricultural advice
  • Plant and animal pest control and biosecurity
  • Natural resource management; and
  • Emergency and disaster assessment and response.

The Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson was quoted as saying “agricultural advisory services provided by Agriculture NSW (part of the Department of Primary Industries) would also be incorporated in a single new body, Local Land Services,……Farmers and landowners will be able to easily access natural resource management, agricultural advice and biosecurity functions from one organization,….The structure will free up staff to work more closely with their communities, encourage innovation and integration across the landscape and be more accountable to ratepayers”.

The Minister is also credited with saying Local Land Services would be regionally-based, semi-autonomous, statutory organisations governed by locally-elected and skills-based board members. For more information on the new structure, follow the link, as outlined by Ms Hodgkinson: media/pdf/20121004_FINAL_Local_Land_Services_fact_sheet.pdf

CO2Land org has always encouraged better practices and notes the new Local Land Services will be set up to promote innovation, improve productivity and let farmers and landholders to get on with being able to manage their land.

This news should comfort organisations looking for a better relationship with levels of government without the prescriptive styles of the former authorities. While it is welcome that the work of community-based natural resource management organisations like Landcare NSW and Greening Australia will be more closely attuned to the administration it remains to be seen if harmony will prevail over funding distributions and cooperation with other co-funded organisations including the Rural Research and Development Corporations.

CO2Land org notes there is concerned over job cutting and the effects on the bush funding models. The main criticism being the election promises and moves to decentralisation is in fact becoming centralisation of DPI.  We spoke to a recent DPI employee that accepted a package from the body, and it was said – now more good than bad will follow, everyone was too comfortable before and whether the remaining staffing is permanent Government employees or contractors or just made up of volunteers it will be better than the way it was delivering. Only one real issue remains: What will be the sources of the funding for vital work?

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