THE NSW NATURE Conservation Council, which has taken the state government to court over regressive new land-clearing permissions, has lauded a report exposing Coalition internal divisions and maneuvers over environmental policies.
These policies have the National Party tail wagging the Liberal Party dog – variously on water extraction, logging, or land clearing and destroying biodiversity. [A similar scenario is being fought out at the federal level.]
The traditionally conservative Murdoch news service in The Australian has been dissecting the National Party of late. “Its recent report shows the National Party is dictating environment policy to the whole of NSW and that there are deep divisions within the Berejiklian government on these issues,” said Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski.
Charges that environment minister bullied by senior Nationals, including Member for Monaro, John Barilaro.
“The article suggests Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton was not given time to properly assess the environment impact of new land clearing laws before she signed off them.
“The report also shows Ms Upton being bullied by senior Nationals Ministers, including Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair and Deputy Premier (Member for Monaro) John Barilaro.”
Plundering of forest, woodlands and water supplies?
“Premier Berejiklian should step in to defend the Environment Minister and pull these rogue Nationals into line to prevent the plundering of our forests, woodlands and water supplies,” says Smolski. “The Nationals have shown they can’t be trusted to manage land clearing and water resources, and they are continuing to push to open our beloved national parks to logging.
“The environment of NSW belongs to us all – it is not the plaything of the National Party to do with what they will.”
Nature Conservation Council court case and urgent conservation needs
The Nature Conservation Council is taking legal action to overturn the government’s land-clearing codes, because the codes were made before the Environment Minister had given her concurrence (as required by law) and because the government did not properly consider the principles of ecological sustainability when it made the codes.
The court case is scheduled to be heard in April.
The Nature Conservation Council is calling on the government to revise the codes to make changes, starting with making the following places off limits to tree clearing:
- potential koala habitat
- threatened ecological communities or habitats
- travelling stock reserves.
Logging in National Parks the next battle
The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) also jumped into the fray. They note that despite a statement in budget estimates by the Environment Minister Upton, that there were “no plans” to log the Murray Valley National Park, to do so appears to be a promise from the Liberals to the Nationals.
The Australian reported that it looks like the Premier herself promised that the park would be logged, presumably to deliver on a promise by the now Member for Murray, Austin Evans, in the run-up to a tightly contested by-election.
NPA CEO, Alix Goodwin, said: “The apathy about protecting our environment seems to go right to the Premier, while the Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton, ‘isn’t on top of her brief’.
“It’s frightening that the National Party has such a grip on environment policy that the Premier would consider logging such an important national park.
“Along with another nine groups, we wrote to the Premier in November urging her to rule out de-gazettal. We received an email reply from the National Parks and Wildlife Service with bland assurances. We were worried then, and this report shows our concerns were well founded.
“Where does this end? We know that the timber industry wants to log national parks to boost timber supply as part of their ‘beyond tenure’ campaign. Today the Murray Valley, tomorrow, a park near you?
“It’s abundantly clear who’s running environment policy in NSW. We need an Environment Minister who will be the voice of the environment in cabinet, before our national parks become the victim of forestry and agribusiness.”
INSET IMAGE: Asha Gare