A group of landholders in a forest edge community want to choose who they pay for noxious animal control services, with the RLPB’s ‘non-service’ clearly in their sights.
 
Nearly all landholders in NSW with 4 ha. or more are required by law to pay rates for animal health and noxious animal control services to the Rural Lands Protection Board.
However in an increasing number of rural and forest edge communities, most landholders have no livestock, yet still have to pay for animal health services.  They do however need noxious animal control, but this service is not being delivered adequately.
 
“They are taking our money and not helping us at all” said Dr. Patrick Morrisey of Goonengerry.
 
The problem lies with the antiquated and cattle dominated culture of the RLPB, a statutory body, a law unto themselves, operating with no competition.  Politicians of all persuasions have been trying to open up  government service delivery to competition, but the RLPB seems to fly below the radar.   Dr. Morrisey has lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about the monopoly control RLPB’s have on the delivery of services for noxious animal control.
 
“Let’s face it, the RLPB’s only real  motive is looking after the interests of the cattle industry. So if you don’t have cattle, then you are a nuisance to them and they don’t properly service your needs in managing noxious animals even though are required by law to do so.  Yet they want your money and they’ll sell you up if you don’t pay”.
 
Goonengerry is a forest edge community adjacent to state forest and National Park in Byron Shire, in North East NSW.  It’s on the perimeter of the Mt. Warning Caldera with high conservation values.  Most cattle farmers have long since sold up to ‘lifestyle’ farmers with very different values and priorities.  Goonengerry residents estimate about 90-95% of landholders in the locality paying RLPB rates have no cattle, and many are trying to rehabilitate degraded ex- cattle land for wildlife protection with tree planting, fencing etc at great personal expense.  It is in this pursuit that they require assistance in managing noxious animals (foxes, wild dogs, feral cats and cane toads) that kill wildlife including koalas, echidnas, birds and reptiles.  It is the RLPB’s statutory responsibility to control ‘declared’ noxious animals, that is, only the ones that threaten cows, not wildlife.  So landowners with no cattle are paying rates for services for cattle and not getting a service to control noxious animals that kill wildlife they do have. It’s a joke and not fair.
 
Another example is Traveling Stock Reserves (TSR), vacant Crown land set aside for cattle in times of drought and when in transit. RLPB’s are required by law to manage these reserves.  In Goonengerry, there is one TSR which had more conservation value than grass, called Byrangery Grass Reserve.  About 10 years ago it’s management was handed over to local Ministerially appointed Trustees to manage for wildlife purposes.  The reserve has a koala colony and currently has active foxes which can kill koalas.  The RLPB have a monopoly on providing 1080 baits for controlling foxes, but now they no longer manage the reserve are reluctant to provide the service no-one else is allowed by law to provide.  ‘We’ve been ringing them and leaving messages and they don’t get back to us ‘ said local Val Hodgson, one Trustee of the Reserve.
 
Thousands of dollars are paid to the RLPB annually by landholders in Goonengerry area who are not receiving an adequate service.
 
Proposal
Some Goonengerry landowners are proposing the  RLPB open up their noxious animal control ‘service’ to a competitive tender process, and allow landholders the choice of who they pay their rates to for noxious animal control.
 
For further information contact
 
Patrick Morrisey
 
[email protected], phone (02) 66849461
www.goonengerry.com.au

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