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Baird government on verge of environmental insanity?

Moves by senior ministers in the Baird government to open up rare native bush to broadscale land clearing and cripple powers to stop illegal clearing were described as ‘insane’ today.

“We understand that the Shooters and Fishers Bill to amend the Native Vegetation Act that has been instrumental in saving thousands of hectares and tonnes of topsoil from erosion, across the state will be put to the vote today. It would be an insane move by the Baird government to support it,” said Jeff Angel, Executive Director of Total Environment Centre.

“Nevertheless in my discussions in Parliament yesterday there was evidence the Shooters were confident they could push it through. This is despite the government already reviewing environmental laws via an independent Biodiversity Panel and receiving public submissions with a decision due at the end of the year. Passage of such environmentally damaging legislation not seen in many decades would let loose the bulldozers on a massive scale; be a complete abuse of process and of the public’s participation in the Review.”

“Senior National Party ministers have been pressing to pass the Shooters Bill since the tragic death of environment compliance officer, Glen Turner at Moree. They are trying to leverage this alleged murder and disquiet in some parts of the rural community about Native Vegetation laws purely for political purposes. Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald today about the views of Mr Turner’s family are further testimony to the immoral position being taken by the National Party.”

The Shooters Bill seeks to dismantle the Native Vegetation Act which was passed in 2003 to bring an end to the millions of hectares of bush clearing over past decades with many vegetation communities and animal species brought to the edge of extinction; and valuable topsoil being lost. The Bill also drastically reduces penalties and inspection powers for illegal clearing in a clear signal the government would tolerate environmental destruction.