The Baird government's controversial biodiversity laws have passed their final hurdle in parliament, with NSW farmers set to get greater power to clear their land from next year. The legislation will replace the Native Vegetation Act, which was designed to prevent mass land clearing. Thousands of possums, quolls, koalas and gliders will be killed each year if Premier Mike Baird scraps our tree-clearing laws. Nationals MPs, big agri-business and developers want to allow landholders trash our precious woodlands and urban bushland by replacing the Native Vegetation Act with weaker tree-clearing controls.
The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy
End the senseless destruction of our wildlife - stop the carnage and destruction in NSW
The Baird government's controversial biodiversity laws have passed their final hurdle in parliament, with NSW farmers set to get greater power to clear their land from next year.
The legislation will replace the Native Vegetation Act, which was designed to prevent mass land clearing.
Thousands of possums, quolls, koalas and gliders will be killed each year if Premier Mike Baird scraps our tree-clearing laws. Nationals MPs, big agri-business and developers want to allow landholders trash our precious woodlands and urban bushland by replacing the Native Vegetation Act with weaker tree-clearing controls. These changes will:
-add extinction pressures to our state's 1000 threatened species;
-threaten our clean, reliable water supplies;
-turn our fertile land into wasteland through erosion and salinity;
-put landmark trees and bushland at risk; and
-add further to Australia's carbon pollution.
In 2015, a study by NSW Parks and Wildlife found that 60,000 hectares was being cleared per year in the state — a four-fold increase on previous State Government figures.
Professor Hugh Possingham warned that rather than protecting biodiversity, the laws would allow a doubling of broad-scale clearing that would put some native animals at risk of extinction.
The primary objections of Professor Possingham are that the government is proposing self-assessable codes that will result in broad-scale land clearing, thus degrading soil, water and biodiversity, and that the ‘no net loss’ standard against which clearing should be measured has not made the draft legislation. Despite the weight of scientific expertise opposed to the legislation the Baird Government has pressed on regardless. How are those with short-term, vested interests in monetary gain, allowed to determine their own rate of land clearing? Environmental protection is in everybody's interests, and that of future generations. Eradicating habitat is a silver-bullet for more threatened species, and native flora and fauns extinctions - already we have one of the highest rates in the modern world! Tourist come to see, and rightly expect to see, our wonderful mega-diverse range of iconic native species - vegetation, marsupials, birds, and other native wildlife. They don't want to see barren, cleared landscapes, urban sprawl and industries!
The current laws are supposed to prevent that kind of clearing without permits. The changes, which the government says were developed through a "rigorous, transparent, scientific and evidence-based process," allow farmers more freedom to clear their land without having to find equivalent areas of offsets. This is vandalism, and not only will we lose precious biodiversity functions, and native animals/birds, but we will see more desertification in the future - hardly the route to more production and more food!
The Sydney Basin, for instance, has some 1900 koalas under limited protection, with about 300 of the marsupials resident near Campbelltown one of the areas with rapid housing growth. This is because our rate of immigration is set on full-throttle levels - and not inevitable.
Last year 47,000 native animals and birds were killed in NSW by property owners using a "s121 licence". Each licence strictly controls the number of animals permitted to killed, and requires data to be lodged with the Office of Environment and Heritage. The office issued permits for 34 species, or a total of 145,550 animals and birds to be killed in 2015-16. This included more than 100,000 eastern grey kangaroos, almost 9000 corellas, 6500 sulphur crested cockatoos, 5500 galahs, 655 emus, 175 swamp wallabies, 113 wombats and 83 magpies. What sort of department of "Environment and Heritage" actually gives out so many permits to kill off native species? Some Orwellian oxymoron? They are killing off the ENVIRONMENT, habitat, biodiversity and vandalizing NSW's natural HERITAGE. How can this horrendous carnage be permitted, or justified?
Almost 1000 species of plants and animals are currently endangered in NSW, mainly due to land clearing. Over 40% of the state has already been cleared for agriculture, mining and development purposes and of what’s left, just 9% is in good condition. This leaves very little room for our native animals to maintain their homes. Since the "bad old days" of colonisation, and ignorance, biodiversity has been in steady decline in NSW. For the last 10 years, previous Governments have been working hard to halt and improve this decimation of our local plants and animals, armed with two environment protection acts – the 1995 Threatened Species Conservation Act and the 2003 Native Vegetation Act. They aren’t perfect but the World Wildlife Fund reckons these laws have saved the lives of around 250 000 of our furry amigos to date, including koalas and other native animals.
So why the new Colonial land-clearing permits, a return to the dark ages of ignorance, and law-less-ness? What about the national laws and policies that protect our native species?
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government's central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places defined in the Act as matters of national environmental significance.
Specifically, the EPBC Act aims to:
-conserve Australia? biodiversity
-protect biodiversity internationally by controlling the international movement of wildlife
-provide a streamlined environmental assessment and
-approvals process where matters of national environmental significance are involved
-protect our world and national heritage
-promote ecologically sustainable development.
So, why isn't this Act being implemented against the rogue Baird government? What are our Environment ministers doing to stop the Baird governments vandalism, and destruction?
Secretary, Australian Wildlife Protection Council