Why did we have a community panel?
A community panel was established to investigate funding options to maintain the South East Drainage Network. The panel, which operated closely to a jury model, looked at possible options to ensure the drainage network and its' associated infrastructure was maintained now and into the future.
The State Government committed $2.2 Million per year, however more funding is required to meet maintenance expectations and requirements.
The panel investigated options to raise the extra needed funding and who should pay for the future management of the drainage system.
The Panel came together to hear evidence and took submissions from technical experts and the broader community to assist them to develop recommendations that they provided to the Minister.
The Community Panel
The South East Natural Resources Management Board (SE NRM Board) contracted "newDemocracy” to select the Community Panel and design its functionality.
The process to form the Community Panel commenced in mid-October. 7,000 invitations were randomly circulated to the community of the South East to invite them to register their interest in being part of the Panel. The selection of participants by a third party ensured that the panel was objective and non-biased.
Those who received an invite and then registered were then interviewed to gauge their suitability with the panel before it was finalised in December 2015.
The Community Panel then undertook its deliberations over three weekends held in Late January, February and March 2015. Once the panel was concluded, they made a recommendation to the Minister who took it to State Cabinet to present it to parliament.
The South East Drainage Network
The drainage network performs a significant function across a large portion of the regions landscape to support agricultural productivity through managing agricultural flooding, water logging and addressing dryland salinity in the Upper South East. The management of the drainage network also has a focus on providing water to wetlands and high value natural environments that are connected to the drains of the region.
The extensive network of more than 2,600 km of drains, incorporates more than 520 structures including bridges and crossings which underpin the region’s road network, which in turn supports the operation of the economy of the region including regions tourism industry and the everyday operations of businesses within the region.
Maintaining the operation and management of the whole drainage network is an ongoing task undertaken by the South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board. The State Government has made a commitment to continue to invest $2.2 Million per annum in the management and operation of the drainage system. Securing additional regional funding for the operations, maintenance and management of the South East Drainage system has identified as a priority by the Minister.
In June 2014, the Minister announced that he had asked the SE NRM Board to undertake a Community Panel to consider what a sustainable funding regime is, and who, regionally, should pay for the future management of the drainage system of the South East region.
This Community Panel operated in the style of a Citizens Jury, whereby members of the community were randomly selected to form part of the 25-26 member Community Panel.