I write as a former agricultural extension and advisory officer of the NSW government with a career spanning some 25 years.
I served as a soil conservationist in many parts of NSW and initiated extension and advisory programs for conservation farming, vegetation management, dryland salinity and carbon sequestration during that time.
I resigned from the department in 1997 because of the Carr Labor government’s introduction of SEPP 46 and the Native Vegetation Conservation Act and the expectation that extension officers were now policing officers.
I watched with dismay as Labor systematically disintegrated extension and advisory services and closed more than 40 departmental offices over 16 years.
The creation of Local Land Services (LLS) is a positive step for the reestablishment of focused advisory services in NSW.
The DPI will continue to focus on research while extension and advisory services will be delivered through LLS.
The regions were finalised this week and there will be about 50 Agricultural Advisory Officers, 50 Industry Development Officers, 13 new Research & Development positions and three new post-doctoral positions across those regions.
One of the very positive outcomes will be the creation of Local Land Service Boards.
These local boards will make decisions about services and staff in each region and where they will be located – this point alone has been widely lauded by many of my former colleagues as a huge step in the right direction.
If I did not think that this new structure would improve the delivery of advisory services in NSW, I would not be supporting it publicly in this manner.
RICK COLLESS MLC