The PFL Chair Kevin Anderson, Member for Tamworth, organised a debate (a Notice of Motion) in the Legislative Assembly of the NSW Parliament yesterday which enabled MPs to speak about Landcare in their electorate and the events they attended during Sustaining Landcare Week.

We heard from 11 MPs from across the state commending the hard work and dedication of Landcarers and the significant value Landcare provides. Specific recognition was given to volunteers, Landcare committees and the extraordinary work of the Local Landcare Coordinators. Please find the  extracts from Hansard transcript relevant to the Hunter below.

Extracts from Hansard 20th September 2018

Mr K Anderson, Mr T Crackenthorp, Mr Greg Piper, Mr Michael Johnsen

Mr KEVIN ANDERSON (Tamworth) (12:12): I move: That this House: Thursday, 20 September 2018 Legislative Assembly- PROOF Page 20 (1) Notes NSW Sustaining Landcare Week took place from 17 August to 2 September 2018, and acknowledges events and activities held throughout this period. (2) Commends the achievements of the Landcare community in regional and metropolitan New South Wales. (3) Supports these hardworking volunteers through the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Landcare. I am the proud chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Landcare. I welcome Landcare NSW chief executive officer Adrian Zammit and International Environmental Weed Foundation founder and executive director Bev Debrincat to the gallery. I thank them very much for joining us today. Landcare NSW is the peak body for Landcare in this State and a community-based organisation that focuses on managing and protecting our natural resources. Its members are creating more productive and sustainable farms, conserving our environment and building more cohesive and resilient communities. The iconic institution has transformed the landscape by enabling farmers, landowners and conservationists to work together at a local level on local issues.

Landcare NSW was established in 2007 after a group of volunteers recognised a need for a unified voice to represent the State's dedicated community of land carers. After months of consultation and planning an inaugural meeting was held in Sydney, which was followed by the first muster in Tamworth in October 2007. Since then, every two years land carers from across the State gather at musters to harness ideas and discuss issues. With the support of the New South Wales Government and Local Land Services [LLS], Landcare NSW is building its capability and capacity to better support the 60,000-strong volunteer Landcare community.

In 2015 the New South Wales Government cemented its commitment to Landcare NSW by developing and funding a new Landcare policy that is being implemented through a partnership
between Landcare NSW and Local Land Services. This Government saw the value that Landcare provides and in 2015 at the initiative of Minister for Police Troy Grant, who was the patron of
Landcare at the time, it committed $15 million to Landcare NSW to provide for Landcare across the State. The initiative included the development of a sustainable funding source that is partly being used to support volunteers into the future and to help set up the four-year New South Wales Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, which creates a network of locally based coordinators and a centralised support team to increase the effectiveness of Landcare networks. Currently, 34 host Landcare organisations are engaged and 72 local Landcare coordinators are doing a magnificent job on the ground and achieving real outcomes.

The proof of Landcares success is in the pudding. Some 63 per cent of Landcare groups have reported increased participation, 86 per cent have reported increased capacity to address social, agricultural and environmental issues, and 92 per cent have reported better interactions with Local Land Services. The importance of the community Landcare movement is highlighted by the impact of the drought on farmers and rural communities, which is presently at the forefront in New South Wales. Our primary producers are core to our productivity and growth, and organisations such as Landcare support our farmers and regional communities. For example, in response to the ongoing drought LLS teamed up with Landcare to roll out a series of free drought workshops focusing on the health and wellbeing of our farming women. That is just one example of the work Landcare is doing to support our regional communities outside of delivering environmental outcomes. There is a real social benefit to it.

Many members of the House are part of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Landcare. We have all stood together at Landcare events at Parliament House to acknowledge the fantastic work of program coordinators across the State. The Parliamentary Friends of Landcare group was set up in 2015 as an outcome of the Sustaining Landcare campaign prior to the State election. The group is bipartisan in its support for Landcare, as we will hear from members today, and provides an avenue for us to connect with and offer support to Landcare at the State level and a local level in suburbs, regional towns and farming communities.

The Parliamentary Friends of Landcare continues a longstanding tradition of support for Landcare with all political parties represented and has been a strong advocate for the NSW Sustaining Landcare Week.  The NSW Sustaining Landcare Week continues across the State and again this year it was strongly supported by the Parliamentary Friends of Landcare. Running for 16 days from 17 August to 2 September, Sustaining Landcare Week aimed to raise community awareness of the vital work undertaken by Landcare across New South Wales. It is not easy to start a community organisation from scratch that has such an impact on local communities. It is therefore only appropriate to have a week to celebrate the important work that the people do. The week gave land carers and members of the public an opportunity to come together to share their experiences and knowledge. More than 30 events were held, with hundreds of people who are dedicated to supporting the Landcare movement in attendance. Landcare groups across the State showcased their work at a range of events from Penrith to North Sydney, from Nowra to the North Coast and from Bendemeer to Broken Hill. Generating understanding of the work of Landcare and other community organisations is critical to maintaining ongoing support for those groups and their dedicated volunteers. There was an opportunity to engage in my electorate of Tamworth. I know many members also attended events in their electorates to support and promote Landcare and the work it does. Landcare has always been about more than just planting trees. It is about sustainable and productive agriculture, environmental conservation, restoration and social capital. Other Landcare NSW initiatives that are taking place across my electorate include the fantastic Office of Environment and Heritage Blinky Drinkers program for koalas.

Mr TIM CRAKANTHORP (Newcastle) (12:19): I am pleased to speak in the House today to this motion. I have been a member of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Landcare for some three years. I pay tribute to the chair, the member for Tamworth, for running such a good, strong, bipartisan group; he has done a terrific job. I pay tribute also to Adrian and Bev, who are in the gallery, and to Rob Dulhunty, who I believe is finishing up after 10 strong years as Landcare NSW chair and who also has done a terrific job.

Speaking from a bipartisan point of view, I commend the Government for the $15 million it has put towards the Landcare networks. Newcastle has a very active and dedicated network of Landcare groups and volunteers. Locally, Landcare works to preserve and protect the biodiversity of our natural environment and to foster community awareness and participation in sustainable natural resource management for Newcastle. City of Newcastle Landcare and the Hunter Region Landcare Network have formed an alliance to help support Landcare volunteers and groups in natural resource management activities, such as bush regeneration, dune rehabilitation, seed collection and plant propagation. They have done a magnificent job along the Merewether Beach to Bar Beach strip in particular. Griff Foley has led a wonderful band of local community Landcare workers who have made what was a fairly denuded dune system into a beautiful place.

Volunteers of the City of Newcastle Landcare work within the framework of the Landcare ethic, that is, the ecological restoration and sustainable management of the land and water resources in the Hunter region and to pass on a healthier natural environment to future generations. The City of Newcastle Landcare volunteers receive free training and guidance from council officers; resources such as tools and plants, mulch and signage; and safety gear and insurance cover whilst working on council land. Each year there is a barbecue and awards event to celebrate their volunteering and achievements. I have been out on the hills working with one of our groups and I have to say that they do a great job. The electorate of Newcastle has a number of devoted Landcare groups who work in the following locations: Arcadia Park, Charlotte Street Reserve, Dixon Park Beach, Merewether foreshore, Morgan Street Reserve, Myamblah Crescent, Nesca Parade, Nobbys Horseshoe Beach, Obelisk Hill, Stockton and Trig Shepherds Hill. I thank all of those Landcare groups and volunteers for the outstanding work they do for the community and the environment.

More broadly, the Hunter Region Landcare Network cares for a diverse region that includes natural parks and forests, wetlands, coastal land and seascapes. The Hunter is a rich farming and husbandry area with a wide variety of crops and livestock which contribute to the State and national economy.

The Hunter Region Landcare Network acts as a voice for more than 300 Landcare groups in the catchment and it is involved in the promotion, support and funding of Landcare activities in cooperation with the Hunter Local Land Services and various councils. It is critical that we provide these organisations with the funding they need to get on with the job of protecting and preserving our environment. I place on record my thanks to the team at the Hunter Regional Landcare Network for the work they do, in particular Stacy Mail, the Lower and Mid Hunter Local Landcare Coordinator; Nicholas Alexander, the Upper Hunter Local Landcare Coordinator; Leslie Pearson, president; Chris Wokes, treasurer; committee members Jenny Castles, Carmel Brown, Chris Jackson and Lyn Morris; Stephen Thatcher, public officer; and John Hughson, network adviser. I again commend the motion and say what a great job Landcare does in New South Wales.

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (12:28): I too acknowledge the member for Tamworth and thank him for bringing this important matter of Landcare in New South Wales to the attention of the House. I also acknowledge Bev and Adrian from Landcare NSW as representatives of a magnificent organisation.

I first became involved in the political process for only one reason: to address the decline in the natural environment where I lived. The area around Lake Macquarie was suffering greatly and we needed to take action locally. I cannot think of a better organisation to deal with issues locally while at the same time dealing with the broader problem of the degradation of our natural environment, including the impact and damage to rural production. When I first became involved in the environmental movement, there were a lot of well-intentioned people and well-intentioned programs. The first program I was involved with was called LEAP, the Landcare Environmental Action Program. I was a director of Hunter LEAP. They were very well-intentioned, but as with many good thoughts they do not necessarily progress to achieve their goals.

To see the substantial growth of Landcare and to see how effective it has been is something to behold. It has been my opinion through my role with Lake Macquarie City Council over many years—and there are still more than 200 Landcare groups throughout Lake Macquarie—that Landcare has been the most effective mobilisation of volunteers in New South Wales and, indeed, Australia. Amazing practical experience and energy is being brought by locals to pay attention to and repair the local environment. An amazing level of expertise has also been developed. People who have taken their qualifications to a very high standard have improved our understanding of how to deal with the degradation that has occurred across New South Wales.

There are other electorates that fit within the Lake Macquarie local government area under the umbrella of Lake Macquarie Landcare—for example, Wallsend, Charlestown, Swansea and Cessnock, to a degree. We have all benefited, as have our communities. There are too many people in my area for me to name, but I do want to talk about John Hughson, who was mentioned by the member for Newcastle, because John Hughson was there from the beginning. He is one of the great inspirations for other people to get involved. It is about people being able to share information, lending support and bringing together like-minded people. In New South Wales we are getting much more for our environment from Landcare than any government or any other group would be able to or has been able to provide. Once again, I thank the member for Tamworth.

Mr MICHAEL JOHNSEN (Upper Hunter) (12:41): By leave: It is with great pleasure that I make a contribution to debate on the motion brought to the House by my neighbour and friend, the member for Tamworth. I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of Adrian and Bev from Landcare NSW and I welcome them. I acknowledge that Landcare plays a significant role in the community of the Upper Hunter.

Landcare is an iconic and community-based institution which has transformed the landscape, enabling farmers, landowners and conservationists to work together. Recently in my electorate of Upper Hunter there was an opportunity to engage with local Landcare as part of NSW Sustaining Landcare Week.  On Sunday 19 August the Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare group held a community social evening in conjunction with their annual general meeting.

A recent study commissioned by Landcare NSW shows that Landcare contributes $500 million per annum in economic value, and that is considered a conservative estimate. Since 2015 Landcare has
had strong support from the New South Wales Government and this has made a difference to Landcare on the ground. With the backing of the Government, Landcare NSW and the Local Land
Services [LLS] Landcare has been able to achieve a number of outcomes. I congratulate the New South Wales Government and Landcare on their efforts in this partnership.

Martindale Creek Catchment has a serious problem with green cestrum, which is a weed that causes stock death, if eaten, and environmental damage. With the support of the Muswellbrook Shire Council the Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare group has successfully undertaken stage one of a community-wide program to help farmers control green cestrum. It is funded by the Muswellbrook Shire Council. The results of stage one of the green cestrum program were presented to the community in conjunction with the Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare group annual general meeting on a damper and video night. We were joined by representatives from the project partners, Muswellbrook Shire Council and Hunter LLS. There were representatives from their support systems and partnerships across the Landcare community, government departments, non- government organisations, members and local residents. It was a successful evening enjoyed by all. Some details of the project include that it was managed by the Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare; it covered 33 properties plus sections of the Wollemi National Park and more than 16 kilometres of creek; 80 hectares of riparian zone was treated; it used 282 hours of contract team; 15 five-litre containers of chemical were supplied to 15 other farmers, plus in-kind from Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare;  there were more than 165 hours of project management and an estimated 450 hours of farmers spraying with free chemical; and it utilised at least $19,500 worth of time from the Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare. I am sure members will agree that is a magnificent effort. It is making a significant positive impact on eradicating the green cestrum.

In late August Murrurundi Landcare-Pages River Warriors launched a new outdoor learning area on the banks of the Pages River to be shared by local schools. Murrurundi Landcare-Pages River Warriors received $5,000 from the Hunter LLS to construct a classroom. I congratulate everyone involved.