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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 247

Senator SANDY MACDONALD (7.07 p.m.) —I rise to support the motion that the Senate take note of the fourth annual report of Landcare Australia. It is a great pleasure to follow Senator David Brownhill who, as a working farmer on the Liverpool plains west of Quirindi, would be an exponent of farming best practice as far as landcare is concerned. It is also worth noting that his son David for some years was the Landcare officer at Inverell—which is not too far away from us—and he did a very good job there.

  We are nearly half way through the inaugural decade of landcare that Landcare Australia was set up to promote. Its aim was sustainable land use. The core aim of Landcare is the development of a partnership between governments—both the Commonwealth and the states—and the community, which includes particularly the National Farmers Federation. The aim is to address land degradation across this wide brown land.

  Landcare's other important role is to work with the corporate sector to raise funding to support landcare group activity and conduct awareness campaigns. A large number of companies now provide sponsorship for landcare initiatives across Australia through the encouragement of Landcare Australia.

  Importantly, by accepting landcare groups' projects as its own, Landcare Australia is able to offer tax deductions for any donations of money or property. Landcare Australia relies heavily on the landcare network for support in carrying out its awareness and fundraising functions, particularly for national events such as landcare month, which was held in March this year, and landcare day, which is held early in November every year.

  Landcare is maintained in its effort by an extensive regional and community group network across Australia. Those of us in rural and regional Australia are all very conscious of the good work that Landcare does. Landcare Australia is to be congratulated on its ability to raise public awareness of its work. Under the heading `national awareness' the report says:

Research conducted by the Roy Morgan Research Centre on the company's behalf, shows that between July 1991 and November 1992, the awareness of landcare doubled from 22% to 44% on a national basis, and increased threefold from 10% to 34% in capital cities.

That is quite a remarkable increase in public awareness, and Landcare Australia can take a lot of the credit for that increase.

  I would like to make special mention on this occasion of the Liverpool plains land management committee, which has accepted the role of coordinating the planning, research, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of the rich Liverpool plains in New South Wales. It is an area of immense economic and farming significance and produces in excess of $120 million of export income a year.

  Much of the agriculture producing this income is now being threatened by salinity and other landcare problems. Opening a recent meeting of the Liverpool plains land management committee, the chairman—a Quirindi district farmer, Jim McDonald—said that the research should be appropriate and relevant to the body providing funds and to the clients. The meeting identified two essential areas of funding—hydrological mapping and water balanced modelling. The committee is to be congratulated on its landcare initiatives. I also commend Landcare Australia to each and every Australian.