Local Land Services board elected amid low voter turnout

THE Local Lands Services announced the successful candidates in the inaugural board elections on Monday, with no candidates from the Bega Valley making the cut.

The South East LLS district stretches from Eden to Wollongong and west to Goulburn and Yass. 

The three South East representatives elected are Stuart Burge from Numeralla, Barry Gay from Cowra and Mac Wilson from Grabben Gullen, a town 45km north-west of Goulburn.

Mr Burge is an agronomist of 30 years’ experience who believes he is well placed to represent all landholders from across the South East.

“Yes, I am from the Monaro, however as an agronomist I have a lot of experience working with farmers on the South Coast,” he said.

“I’m very familiar with the issues of concern to farmers across the South East and the different farming systems and pastures.”

The election was marred by extremely low voter enrolment by LLS ratepayers, an issue the organisation said it is working towards correcting. 

“The process hasn’t been perfect and improvement will be required in conducting future elections,” Local Land Services chairman John Macarthur-Stanham said. 

“A number of reasons have been offered for the low level of enrolments ranging from a complicated form to complete, disbelief that it was necessary to have a re-enrolment process at all, the timing of the election, to just general apathy or farmers being more focused on drought or harvest.” 

The LLS is a new service delivery organisation for landholders and is an amalgamation of the Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA), Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) and some agricultural advisory services from the NSW Department of Primary Industries. 

“Running an election during the height of the transition phase was never going to be easy, but rather than wait until things were bedded down, our primary objective was to get the elected board members on board as soon as possible,” Mr Macarthur-Stanham said.

Mr Burge believed low voter turnout was partly caused by cynicism towards to the new organisation. 

“Farmers are wary and cynical, so it all comes back to the LLS building credibility with landholders,” he said. 

“I believe I have a lot of credibility from my work as an agronomist and I’m bringing that to the board, and my hope is that farmers see representatives like myself and start to trust the LLS.

“The LLS will need to seriously engage with landholders and once they develop policy frameworks seek feedback from these landholders.”

Mr Macarthur-Stanham said while the elections were not without some issues, they resulted in 34 strong candidates from 11 LLS regions across NSW. 

“I welcome the wealth of knowledge and experience the elected board members will bring to the board table and the additional regional perspectives which will complement the skill sets of the appointed board members,” he said. 

“I congratulate the candidates on their election, they have put up their hands to serve and provide leadership in their regions in this initial phase of Local Land Services’ existence.”

The elected board members will take up their positions by the end of March.

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