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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8871

Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (18:27): I rise to take note of SEWPaC's annual report and to note the Australian Landcare Council—a wonderful coalition initiative: local solutions to local environmental issues, direct action, environmental action, conservationists and farmers coming together on projects around stewardship of the land—annual report was also tabled. But again, real funding has been slashed to the Landcare budget, reconfigured, rebadged under the current government, so that now it is focused on national priorities. Basically, you need the Great Barrier Reef in your backyard to actually access these funds. There is significantly less money available for local projects than before.

The Nationals understand the importance of Landcare, as do the Liberal Party, and I rise to comment because, last week, one of the original architects of Landcare, Alex Arbuthnot, was presented with the NFF Award of Honour. Alex Arbuthnot was on the blackberry task force and showed significant leadership working with conservationists and agricultural organisations around the construction of Landcare. He was also a president of the VFF. On accepting his award at the NFF congress last week, Alex thanked the community and the leadership throughout the agripolitical world over his time, but he also, importantly, thanked his wife Isabel because Isabel Arbuthnot was the farmer of the family—milking those cows while Alex was away advocating for his community.

I want to briefly mention the coalition's solution to the slashed Landcare funding. We understand the importance of these groups to local communities, the value of the more than 4,000 Landcare groups in Australia. We will reinstate support for these groups—almost 40 per cent of farmers were previously involved in Landcare organisations—and we will also restore the funding of the 56 natural resource management regions to 2007 levels. We need local solutions rather than having the centralised planning politburo of the current Greens-Labor government continually taking away from local and direct action on the ground on environmental issues and rebadging money so that locals cannot access it to do the real, important work that these community groups do. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! It being 6:30 pm, the time for consideration of documents has expired. The documents that are still on page 21 will remain on the Notice Paper.