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Draining red tape

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Government red tape had to be addressed before Naracoorte Lucindale mayor Patrick Ross could take up his position as a local government representative on the SE Water Conservation and Drainage Board (SEWCDB).

Operating under special legislation, the SEWCD Act mainly provides for the conservation and management of water and the prevention of flooding of rural land, among other things.

The board is made up of four Ministerial appointments, one local government representative and three elected members.

Mr Ross was first elected for the local government position following a vote at the Limestone Coast Local Government Association (LCLGA) meeting on August 11.

At that meeting, LCLGA president Lynette Martin, of Mount Gambier City, explained former Robe CEO James Holyman had been the association’s representative on the conservation and drainage board until July 6, but the position was now vacant.

“We are now required to appoint a replacement,” Ms Martin said, adding Mr Ross had indicated an interest to be nominated.

Acting executive officer (EO) Colin Byles suggested a recommendation be moved which advised Mr Holyman was no longer the association’s representative on the board.

“This is just part of the governance,” Mr Byles said.

Tatiara mayor Liz Goossens moved this and Wattle Range mayor Des Noll seconded it and it was carried.

Ms Martin asked if there were any further nominations besides Mr Ross. Both Grant Council mayor Kylie Boston and Robe mayor Lisa Ruffell nominated.

Indicating the need for a vote, Ms Martin said everyone needed to know what their interest in the position was and asked for them each to give a 60-second presentation and “plead their case”.

The Grant and Robe mayors left the room, and Mr Ross, a farmer, highlighted his personal background involving wetlands, conservation and drainage via the Upper SE Dryland Salinity Scheme dating back to the 1990s and, more recently, the Reflows Scheme.

Ms Ruffell re-entered the room and withdrew her nomination, suggesting Ms Boston had far more experience in the field than she did.

In a 60 second presentation, Ms Boston said her background was in botany and she had worked through most of the South East from Keith through to Port MacDonnell.

“I also sit on the review panel for the water allocation plan, and those two things are very much linked with us moving forward, with us looking after our landscape,” she said.

She said there were still some issues around wetlands and some good work had been done in the Wattle Range district.

In a secret ballot, Mr Ross was elected to the board.

But almost three months later, at Naracoorte Lucindale Council’s October 24 meeting, CEO Trevor Smart highlighted a problem.

He said the Local Government Association of SA (LGASA) had brought it to the attention of the association “that such nominations are legislatively required to be undertaken through the LGA, and the assessment and appointment then (be) made by the State to the SEWCDB”.

“So, although what appears to be a somewhat bureaucratic process, and an error by the SEWCDB – I am now seeking council’s endorsement to nominate mayor Patrick Ross as a suitable candidate to the LGASA for the role of board member of the SE Water Conservation and Drainage Board,” Mr Smart said.

Cr Darren Turner moved to support Mr Ross and Cr Peter Ireland seconded it and it was carried unanimously.

As most of the South East was once under water, the first drains were dug in 1863.

Twelve years later, in 1875 the South Eastern Drainage Act 1875 was introduced and passed by parliament and boards managed the drains in various areas which then became district council areas.

Naracoorte Community News 6 December 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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