Locals not happy with ag changes

A Local Land Services workshop in Yass has done little to allay concerns about the future of local jobs and services.

About 150 people attended the conference at the Yass Soldiers Club on Monday, including farmers, landowners, interest groups, Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson, and Hume election candidates James Harker-Mortlock and Angus Taylor.

It was the first in a series of regional workshops to discuss the new services body that will amalgamate 27 organisations into 12 from January next year.

Natural Resources commissioner and chair of the Local Land Services Stakeholder Reference Panel, Dr John Keniry AM, was on hand to answer questions from the public. So too was Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh.

However locals who attended the workshop to voice concerns were hard pressed to find answers.

Yass Valley councillor Ann Daniel said there had been very little information about the change, and that it was unclear which services would be funded and which would need to be paid for by ratepayers. She was scathing about how much representation small towns would have.

“This is totally inadequate for the people of Yass,” she told the meeting.

Dr Keniry said ratepayers would be well represented in ratio terms. He said the organisation would look at flexibility for rates in the long term, but needed the money in the short term.

Bimbi Turner said she agreed with the need for amalgamation “but not at the cost of local jobs and services”. She was concerned “by sacking” so many people, the organisation was losing those with local expertise and knowledge.

Dr Keniry said job cuts would have still happened with or without the amalgamation because of budget cuts.

More in Paddock Points next Friday.

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