THE former Snowy Scientific Committee will be restructured to "improve the advice it provides to the NSW government" on Snowy River environmental flows. It will also enable, according to the government, greater input from experts such as fisheries and hydrology specialists.
NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson has released a discussion paper for community comment on the role, membership and reporting arrangements of the new Snowy Advisory Committee.
But the move was immediately condemned by the Snowy River Alliance. Its chairman John Gallard said it was not a consultation with the community but an act of smoke and mirrors. He questioned the independence and impartiality of any new committee.
M Hodgkinson said the proposed structure of the new Snowy Advisory Committee would be more flexible and adaptive to changing needs and be more responsive to the community and government.
"We are seeking the public's view on this proposal over the next six weeks, with written submissions to be received by Monday, April 1st," she said.
The discussion paper outlines the proposed legislative amendments to Section 57 of the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 including:
* That the structure and appointment of the committee be subject to regulation;
* The appointment of an independent chairperson;
* Balance community and government representation on the committee;
* That Snowy Hydro Ltd will fund the operation of the committee;
* With the exception of advice or reports it produces, the committee will become subject to control and direction of the minister; and
* Change the name from Snowy Scientific Committee to Snowy Advisory Committee to better reflect its role.
Ms Hodgkinson thanked the members of the former Snowy Scientific Committee and in particular the chairperson, Dr Jane Roberts, for their work that led to a number of environmental releases over the past few years.
"We have now had the opportunity to look back and see what has worked and what can be improved, and are seeking comment on the functions, committee membership, reporting arrangements and the role of the Chair," Ms Hodgkinson said.
The discussion paper is posted on the NSW Office of Water website www.water.nsw.gov.au
For an edited version, see page 8.