The area of natural resource management is a popular topic for criticism around Eyre Peninsula and probably many other regional areas of South Australia.
The question is often asked by councils – who have been given the responsibility for collecting state natural resource management levies through rates notices whether they like it not – and residents alike: what is our money being spent on?
And despite Natural Resource Management Boards’ efforts to promote the good work that happens on the ground, the message does not always get out into the community.
Part of the reason for this seems to be due to some of the structural changes to natural resources management in South Australia over the past 10 to 15 years or so.
Independent boards have been progressively transformed and now come under the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources so board staff are now department staff.
The interest of Eyre Peninsula people in particular in natural resources management was highlighted in the response to the recent survey conducted by the state Liberal Party, asking people for feedback about the current structure, with more than 20 per cent of responses coming from Eyre Peninsula.
An overwhelming majority of the people who responded to the survey were calling for Natural Resources Management Board members to be elected by the community – reflecting a desire for more local input.
This echoes what Eyre Peninsula people are asking for when it comes to a range of other areas as well, such as health.
It is a common cry from the regions that people want to see more of the decisions that affect regional people being made by regional people, who live in and understand these communities, and obviously this is something that the state opposition plans to take on board.
However it will be interesting to see just how much structural change is proposed when the Liberal Party releases its new natural resource management policy in the next few weeks.
Opposition environment spokesman David Speirs (pictured with Member for Flinders Peter Treloar) said during his visit to Port Lincoln last week the party was looking at decentralisation but that could take many different forms and any structural changes would also rely on a change of government at the next state election.