The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Niall Blair, has showed through his words and deeds that he is a true friend of Landcare.
The Minister has portfolio responsibility for the NSW Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative and is central to shaping the future of Landcare in this State.
He allocated an hour for the visit but ended up staying for two, engaging in a genuine, open dialogue and impressing the endorsed Landcare representatives from around the State with his knowledge and understanding of the issues.
Landcare NSW Chair Rob Dulhunty opened the discussion by thanking the Minister for the NSW Government’s support for Landcare.
All Councillors had the opportunity to have their say. A consistent message was that Local Landcare Coordinators, coupled with expanded state support, are having a positive impact and Landcare is undergoing a revival. For example, in the West of the State the number of groups has gone from 6 to 22 and five more are under development, creating a network across a vast area that can be used for integrated activities such as pest management.
Councillors also talked about some of the challenges. For example, the success of the program has led to growing interest from communities to participate in Landcare projects and activities. This is making it difficult for the part-time coordinators and voluntary committees to meet demand.
The clear message from Councillors was that the program is making a difference; it needs to be not only maintained but expanded.
The Minister took a keen interest in reports from Councillors and expressed his ‘absolute commitment to Landcare’.
The new Chair of Local Land Services, Richard Bull, also attended the meeting and engaged in in-depth discussions with Councillors.
Richard Bull is a member of Holbrook Landcare and has a thorough understanding of the importance of a healthy Landcare movement. He is keen to work closely with Landcare at the State level through the Joint Management Committee which he co-chairs with Rob Dulhunty and at the regional level. He will be spending a considerable amount of time travelling and plans to meet with local Landcare wherever possible.
Landcare NSW views the NSW Government as our key partner and we are currently seeking continued funding and support. At the same time, we are working to diversify our revenue and funding so we are not solely reliant on Government.
Minister Blair agreed, ‘Landcare shouldn’t live or die depending on what happens on Budget day’.