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Minister criticised for not visiting Deniliquin offices

Katrina Hodgkinson did not visit any of the offices affected by Local Land Services while in Deniliquin on Thursday.

December 5, 2012 4:13am

Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson.


NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson did not visit any of the three organisations affected by Local Land Services during her visit to Deniliquin on Thursday.

The minister met with representatives from eight local councils, irrigator groups, private landholders and other agriculture stakeholders to discuss the Local Land Services proposal and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

However she has been criticised for not visiting the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) or the Catchment Management Authority (CMA) offices.

The three organisations will be joined to form Local Land Services in 2014, and are facing budget and job cuts ahead of the merger.

Riverina LHPA board chairman Butch Lane said it was ‘‘not quite right’’ that the minister was in Deniliquin — where the Riverina LHPA headquarters is located — and did not meet with employees.

‘‘Whether she doesn’t want to talk to LHPA people, we don’t know.’’

Mr Lane said it was ‘‘disheartening’’.

‘‘When we’re all trying our best to do what the minister’s asked us too ... and for her not to make even the slightest effort to be in touch with us or to meet with us was a bit down-putting.’’

A spokesperson from the minister’s office said the primary reason for the minister’s visit was to discuss the basin plan and ovine Johne’s disease (OJD).

‘‘The minister was in town to meet with local councils and representatives from local councils, as well as farmers and landholders about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and OJD,’’ she said.

While disappointed that Ms Hodgkinson did not meet with the LHPA, DPI or CMA, Mr Lane did say consultation had improved compared to last time the LHPA underwent change.

The organisation was restructured about five years ago under the previous Labor government, when Ian Macdonald was the Minister for Primary Industries.

Mr Lane said at that time, Mr Macdonald announced the change at a conference he was opening, and it was not up for debate.

‘‘I think he walked out without even remembering to open the conference,’’ Mr Lane said.

 

The chairman said it was ‘‘extremely good’’ that consultation was taking place this time.

He said LHPAs were making submissions to the stakeholder reference panel on Local Land Services, and he encouraged landholders to do the same.

‘‘We urge people, whether they’re in favour of the LHPA or not, to get in there and get on the website or write to somebody on the reference panel and let them know their thoughts.’’

To comment on the proposed plan, visit http://haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/locallandservices or write to ‘Local Land Services feedback, Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 865, Dubbo NSW 2830’.

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