LOCAL Land Services’ chair of chairs Tim de Mestre has stepped down after a year in the role, with the position now becoming part-time.
The former Paraway Pastoral general manager began in February last year, and announced this morning he would vacate the position that sits above the 11 LLS regional boards.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said as part of the evolution of LLS, the role of the chair will transition to part-time, with responsibility for day-to-day matters delegated to the executive director of state operations.
“Tim has successfully managed elements of both roles and has decided now is an opportune time to relinquish those responsibilities,” Mr Blair said.
“He has played a very important role in a number of key reforms and I know his time as chair will leave a lasting legacy on Local Land Services and regional NSW.
“I thank him for his valuable contribution and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Murray LLS chairman and former NSW Nationals MP Richard Bull has been appointed as acting Chair of Chairs.
In the interim, David Wolfenden will step into the role of Chair for Murray.
Today’s announcement follows the appointment of new board members across the state.
Time of change for LLS
It is nearly four years since LLS was born from merging the government’s Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA), Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) and some Department of Primary Industries (DPI) agriculture advisory services.
The agency is expected to have a key role in the roll-out of freshly-minted land clearing reforms.
But questions remain over LLS’ capacity to handle the anticipated load of new inquiries about how to use the new regulations.
Government moved to allay these fears in December by announcing a $28 million funding boost for LLS, including a freshly-funded Sustainable Land Management Office with 100 staff to implement the biodiversity reforms.
In December government also announced a new, binding charter for performance agreements with LLS staff - from the chairman through to regional offices.
“The Local Land Services model is a strong model, and recent audits and reviews have clearly identified opportunities for improvement,” Mr Blair said.
The new guidelines follow a 2016 review of LLS by the government’s independent Natural Resources Commission.
An LLS fact sheet on the charter listed a number of significant changes, including:
- Restructure the central board “to improve strategic focus” and tighter board processes
- Blueprint to boost “financial sustainability” including new sources of revenue, operating efficiencies, service delivery and attracting funding
- Strategies for a consistent approach to stakeholder engagement
- New customer service delivery model
- Culture change project in response to the People Matter initiative (a government employee survey)