Mildura Weekly : Friday June 6 Vol 8 No 31
Mildura Weekly – 06/06/14 59 www.milduraphonebook.com.au A WENTWORTH Councillor is en- couraging Western Land lessees to submit their thoughts and opin- ions about the Crown Lands Re- view White Paper before June 20, saying the next review of Crown Lands was not likely to occur for several years. Wentworth Shire Councillor Bob Wheeldon (PICTURED) has described the review as a “once- in-a -lifetime opportunity to keep rentals affordable, modernise the management of Crown Lands, reduce red tape, allow diversifica- tion and allow free-holding on the same terms as the rest of New South Wales.” Cr Wheeldon described the Crown Lands Review as both a “threat and opportunity.” “Major threats include the risk of increased rentals and resump- tion of leases for national parks,” he said. “Leaseholders should remem- ber the Silverton Wind Farm de- bacle, and the creation of recent Western Division National Parks when thinking about whether they can rely on the government to act fairly. “Graziers should not assume the current practice of waiving rentals in drought conditions will continue as Crown Lands is under pressure to increase the return on leased lands. “The drought waiver is a State Government decision rather than Crown Lands policy – there is no consideration of capacity to pay in the Act. “Under the Western Lands Act the Commissioner has wide pow- ers to set rentals and resume land – graziers should consider how ex- posed they are to this power.” Cr Wheeldon said the West- ern Lands Act still operates on the “18th Century approach” of pe- nalising over-grazing when mod- ern land management practices are going in the opposite direction. “The Western Lands Act as- sumes landholders will over-graze, whereas the Local Lands Services/ Landcare/CMA model is based on co-operation,” he said. “The Western Division remains the only part of NSW where over- grazing is a criminal offence.” Cr Wheeldon said he believed Western Division leaseholders were treated as “second-class citi- zens,” a belief demonstrated by the fact that Crown Lands actively encouraged free-holding of east- ern division leases at nominal amounts. “Currently the Eastern and Central Divisions of NSW pay three percent of the land value to freehold their leases, whereas Western Division Leaseholders wishing to freehold their land have to pay the full market value of the land, less the value of their improvements,” he said. “Free-holding should be avail- able at the same price as the east- ern and central divisions. “In the east of the State the Government have admitted that it is no longer essential that these lands be held in public ownership to maintain environmental and conservation controls over them.” Cr Wheeldon said leasehold- ers should make an effort to re- view the White Paper and submit comments in order to protect their businesses for “future genera- tions.” “Our submissions may not make much difference in the next couple of years, but they may be the difference between our chil- dren and grandchildren having vi- able businesses,” he said. “The Western Division should look towards a prosperous future, and the Western Lands Act should be fair and encourage diversifica- tion. “We now have a Minister for Crown Lands, Kevin Humphries, who lives in the western division, so this is the best chance at a “fair go” we are likely to get.” The Crown Lands Legisla- tion White Paper can be viewed at www.lpma.nsw.gov.au/crown_ lands/comprehensive_review_of_ nsw_crown_land_management. Submission can be made in writ- ing (Crown Lands Management Review, PO Box 2185 Dangar NSW 2309), or via email; crownlands. firstname.lastname@example.org. Crown Lands Review threat and opportunity: Wheeldon VFF members encouraged to have their say ahead of State election VICTORIAN Farmers Federa- tion members will have the chance to “shape the future of their peak lobby group” at the VFF Annual Conference on June 12 and 13. “With a State Election looming, this year’s VFF conference is an opportunity for mem- bers to lodge resolu- tions that set the VFF’s policy agenda – from the local government rates debate to water reform and Coal Seam Gas,” VFF executive Graeme Ford said. “We’re a member- ship organisation, and it’s up to our members to set the direction. “We’re already hear- ing from members who are preparing VFF Conference resolutions on coal seam gas, who want further reforms to the Fire Services Property Levy and are demanding an audit of Northern Victoria’s $2.2billion connections irri- gation project.” The VFF is also calling for nominations for the VFF presidency, VFF Livestock Council president and a number of key commod- ity and policy committee and council positions, with elections to take place at the conference. “In 2014 our focus is on who are our future consum- ers, investors and farmers,” Mr Ford said. “We’re sure to see a lively debate on future investors, with pre- sentations from foreign and superannuation scheme in- vestors. “Rates has and will con- tinue to be a big issue of de- bate at the conference too.” Another highly antici- pated feature will be the sec- ond ‘Heart of Victoria’ gala dinner, which will run in partnership with the Royal Agricultural Soci- ety of Victoria on Thursday, June 12. “Last year saw more than 650 farmers, industry, media and politi- cians attend, this year we expect to go close to 800,” Mr Ford said. “It’s a remark- able opportunity to raise a glass to our Victo- rian farmers and celebrate our industries vital contri- bution to stimulating the economy.” The VFF is also pleased to announce that Federal Agriculture Minister Barn- aby Joyce will speak at the conference, with more in- formation available by visit- ing www.vff.org.au . The Land Living on Vinnie Rodi with BCG to showcase ‘the future’ at 2014 Grains Research Expo SOME of the most exciting innovations in agriculture will be on show at the 2014 Birchip Cropping Group Grains Research Expo, which will take place at Birchip on July 3. This year’s Expo will see the BCG showcase robotics and microwave technology used for weed control, a farmer-led discussion about spray machinery (self-pro- pelled versus tow-behind), precision agriculture in- novations and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) used to monitor crops and col- lect data. BCG extension and communications manager Ciara Cullen said the Expo, which will be held at Birch- ip P-12 School, was shaping up to be one “not to miss.” “So much is happening in our industry at the mo- ment and we’ve been really lucky to secure speakers who are working at the cut- ting edge and who are ready to share their knowledge with Wimmera and Mallee farmers,” she said. Other ‘futuristic’ topics to be covered at the Expo include farm software and apps, the National Broad- band Network, boosting internet connectivity on- farm, livestock marketing and innovations that make it easier to target premium markets and weather fore- casting models and op- tions. The practical and eco- nomic implications of in- corporating hay into a farm system will also be dis- cussed, as will options for managing and marketing grain. Succession planning ensuring farm business growth and sustainability will also be explored dur- ing a presentation by John Gladigau (Collaborative Farming Australia), who will share his experiences of moving into farm board management structures. A second succession planning session focused on family farms and nur- turing the next generation will be presented by the Ru- ral Financial Counselling Service and Adam Loughlin (Pooles and Associates), with the focus on family farming to extend to other sessions and demonstra- tions. The program includes two cooking demonstra- tions by ‘Spice Temple’ sous chef Brianna Smith, a lamb dressing demonstration showcasing the difference between grain and grass-fed lambs by Bourke’s Butch- ers, working dog demon- strations (Moora dog stud) and a ‘header health high tea.’ A large array of food, more than 80 industry ex- hibits, farm machinery, kids attractions and much more will also be on of- fer throughout the day, with the event free for BCG members and $50 for non- members. For more information visit www.bcg.org.au, or telephone 5492 2787.
Friday May 30 2014 Vol 8 No 30
Friday June 13 Vol 8 No 32