Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee - Monday 21 February 2011
Senator SIEWERT—I understand you have started a project called drivers and barriers to the management of native vegetation on private land.
Senator SIEWERT—I cannot find it very easily. Where would I find the details about that particular project?
Mr Morris—The project is still underway. It was one, I believe, contracted to us from the sustainable resource management area of the department. But if you would like a copy of the terms of reference—
Senator SIEWERT—That would be appreciated. Terms of reference, how you are going about it, how long it is going to take, who is being consulted, what the purposes are, who commissioned it and why would be really useful.
Senator SIEWERT—Although it is about drivers and barriers, why was it commissioned and how long ago? Can you tell me that now?
Mr Morris—I do not have the exact date, but we can provide that. But the second half of last calendar year, I believe, was when it was commissioned. It was commissioned because there was quite a lot of interest by farmers, in particular, as to the increased level of regulation on the use of their land, and there were issues to do with how they were affecting decisions by farmers as to how they utilise the land. That is only one of the factors that influence decision making by farmers. We broadened the scope of that and so we are also looking at what are some of the other drivers that actually influence farmers’ decisions. So, rather than just focus on regulations on native vegetation management, it is trying to pick up a bit of a broader look at other issues as well.
Senator SIEWERT—And when do you plan to have it finished by?
Mr Morris—From memory it is about the middle of this calendar year, the end of this financial year.
Senator SIEWERT—And who has been consulted in the process?
Mr Morris—I do not have that level of detail, so I will get my colleague to try and answer that.
Dr Ahammad—One of the key components of this project is to undertake a survey, and that, because of the current climatic condition and flooding and all that, has been delayed somewhat. So the analysis will be based on the survey and we are planning to send the climate report to the sustainable resource management area by the end of this financial year.
Senator SIEWERT—Who are you surveying? Is it geographic stakeholders? Is it farmers and other stakeholders?
Dr Ahammad—This is more of a supplementary survey based on our broadacre agriculture survey undertaken every year. Last year we picked up some of the survey participants and we are undertaking over the phone supplementary surveys, so a cross-section of the farmers we surveyed previously.
Mr Glyde—It is a national survey, and it is based on our existing survey process, which Mr Bowen talked about before, where we are out surveying farmers: broadacre farmers, dairy farmers and the like.
Senator COLBECK—So it is tacked on to the existing process, providing an additional data set that can inform this particular issue.
Mr Morris—Yes, just broadacre farms.
Senator COLBECK—Just broadacre, so it would not include some of the—
Mr Morris—So it is the cropping, the major livestock producing farms.
Senator COLBECK—But it includes all states?
Dr Ahammad—It does.
Senator SIEWERT—What else is happening in the project? So you are undertaking a survey.
Dr Ahammad—Initially we have done some extra analysis of potential behaviours and drivers and then we have consulted some of the existing studies and all that, but the survey is the main component of the research that we have undertaken.
Senator SIEWERT—And when you are talking about broadacre agriculture, does that mean you are not looking at rangelands?
Mr Morris—Rangelands are included in broadacre, so we look at three agro-economic zones in Australia: the high rainfall zone, which is mainly coastal areas, the wheat/sheep zone, which is the major producing areas in Australia, and then the pastoral zone, which is I think what you referred to as rangelands.
Senator SIEWERT—So you are undertaking it in the pastoral zone. If you could get me the terms of reference and all those details, that would be very much appreciated.