Showing posts with label Northern Rivers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northern Rivers. Show all posts

Friday, 30 October 2020

Just what one would expect from a Lib-Nats government - a decision with minimum community consultation to herd at least 1,500 regional kindergarten to high school students in the one campus with likely teacher losses

Doesn’t this sound grand? A $100 million mega campus for all of the Murwillumbah area, merging students from kindergarten to high school……

Echo NetDaily, 28 October 2020:

Murwillumbah’s four public schools will be amalgamated into a single Kindergarten to Year 12 campus at Murwillumbah High, the state government has annouced.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell announced today that Murwillumbah Public School, Murwillumbah East Public School, Murwillumbah High School and Wollumbin High School will be combined to form a single $100 million Murwillumbah Education Campus.

Ms Mitchell said the new mega school would cater to up to 1,500 students, and follow a four-year rebuilding project.

She pledged that no permanent teaching jobs would be lost, and spruiked the ‘community benefits’ of the plan, including the possible joint use of sporting, arts and health facilities.

The new Murwillumbah Education Campus will truly be at the heart of the community, and I look forward to seeing it take shape over the next few years,’ Ms Mitchell said…..

This announcement of a major school merger in the Northern Rivers took the local community by surprise and this appears to have been the plan all along according to the government's own time table which had the two primary school communities only informed by email on the day of the announcement. 

Possibly the lack of early warning was intended to mute the initial response of the teacher's union to the fact that this merger will inevitably see a reduction in teacher numbers once the school merger is completed. 

NSW Labor MP for Lismore Janelle Saffin, Shadow Minister for the North Coast Adam Searle and Shadow Minister for Education Pru Car are concerned with aspects of this merger, which probably consume more of the Berejiklian Government’s time than the creation of a new campus - the chance to sell off state property assets and the chance to reduce public education staffing levels.

Excerpt for a NSW Labor joint media release, 28 October 2020:

Without warning, the Liberals and Nationals will force Murwillumbah Public School, Murwillumbah East Public School and Wollumbin High School to close and move into a single campus at Murwillumbah High School.

Department of Education documents obtained through the Upper House reveals that the amalgamation of four schools in 2024 will change the staffing allocation and potentially displace teaching and support staff.

The Liberals and Nationals promised an upgrade of Murwillumbah East Public School before the last election. Instead, they will now abandon their promise and close the school completely.

Closing schools is the last thing the Liberals and Nationals should be doing. This is a betrayal of the community. They are robbing future generations of quality public schools in their communities,” Ms Car said.

This announcement will rob the North Coast of three public school campuses, with a mega-school increasing school travel times for residents and reducing green space.”

Shadow Minister for the North Coast Adam Searle MLC said: “Now we know why the Premier and the National Party have been stalling on replacing the library and classrooms lost at Murwillumbah East Public School in the floods.

Despite all their hollow promises, it seems that yet more privatisation is their true agenda, not delivering for students and families in Murwillumbah.

This decision has been made without consultation. It has all the signs of a dirty land deal, and is not about improving educational outcomes.”

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said: “I am seeking a guarantee from the NSW Government that all current teaching and support staff jobs will be retained.

This cannot be a cruel cost-cutting exercise,” Ms Saffin said.

I am also seeking a guarantee that public land stays in public hands and is not flogged off to private developers.”

Ms. Saffin also expanded on her views in another media release on the same day: was a shame Mr Barilaro, as Leader of the NSW Nationals, did not take the opportunity while visiting Murwillumbah to make the following announcements for the town and our region:

A $45-million local business support fund for those impacted by the border closures, as he did for the NSW southern border businesses impacted by border closures.

The Nationals’ election promise to provide 280 more nurses, 32 doctors, 38 allied health staff and 50 more hospital workers with some for Murwillumbah Hospital.

The restoration of major contracts to our local businesses, who recently lost their contracts under Mr Barilaro’s big city-big company procurement policy, to remove waste from our Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown reserves.

The upgrade of the Voluntary Buyback House scheme to help with flood protection.

The upgrade to a 24/7 police presence in Murwillumbah.

The reopening of the Murwillumbah Women’s Refuge closed by the Nationals.

The restoration of the Murwillumbah Court services closed by the Nationals.

The announcement of our region’s share of the unspent $1.7 billion Restart NSW Fund, as promised by the Nationals.

Reversing the new practice of Essential Energy ‘gifting’ power poles to farmers and private landholders, which they must pay to maintain if deemed unsafe. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

$250-million NSW Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) Fund opened yesterday and bushfire affected North Coast communities have until 11 December 2020 to apply for funding


The $250-million Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (jointly funded by the federal and state government) which opened for applications yesterday is available to bushfire affected communities in 47 local government areas, including Tweed, Richmond Valley, Ballina, Byron Bay, Kyogle, Lismore and Clarence Valley.

Application deadline in 2pm (AEDT) Friday 11 December 2020. 

Funding is available in the following three categories

Infrastructure projects, such as roads to support increased industrial development. 

Environmental projects, such as regeneration activities. 

Programs including social, business and environmental education initiatives.

The grant funding for individual projects is dependent on the project type. 

• Infrastructure projects must seek a minimum of $400,000 with a maximum available grant of $20 million. 

• Environmental projects including rehabilitation, remediation and resilience improvements must seek a minimum of $200,000 with a maximum available grant of $4 million. 

• Programs, including social, business and environmental education initiatives must seek a minimum of $200,000 with a maximum available grant of $4 million. 

Funding will be prioritised to support applications from areas most impacted by bushfires.

Details can be found at

Those eligible to apply for funding are Councils, Joint Organisations of Councils, Not-for-Profits including business chambers, industry associations and charities, research or academic organisations, Local Aboriginal Councils and State Government corporations.

Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin welcomes the announcement of this new funding. “Every little bit helps and this is more than needed in the lead-up to the Christmas season. Goodness knows we need it – bushfires, drought, more bushfires, floods and COVID-19” Ms Saffin said.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Lismore now has 59 more bus services into and out of the city and Grafton an additional 41 services


Office of the NSW Member for Lismore, media release, 12 October 2020:

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed a NSW Government announcement of an extra 59 weekly bus services in and out of the city of Lismore as a boost for local people who rely on public transport.

Ms Saffin said Acting Deputy Premier NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole, Transport for NSW, bus operators and the Lismore Public & Active Transport Working Group had kept her briefed on the additional bus services coming into effect from 25 October this year.

I have been assuring local customers that these new bus services would be delivered as part of a promised Government program to improve transport options in 16 regional cities statewide, and I’m glad Lismore has not missed out,” Ms Saffin said.

These new weekday and weekend services are available across longer operating hours and are aimed at improving connectivity with work and industrial areas of North and South Lismore, Lismore Base Hospital, Lismore TAFE, Southern Cross University and local shopping centres.

I welcome my Parliamentary colleague in the Upper House Ben Franklin MLC’s announcement of more trips on the 688 ‘Late-Nighter’ service from Goonellabah to Lismore on Saturday evenings, and new trips to popular destinations on Sundays.”

Updated timetable information will be available from 12 October to plan your trip. Please visit

Information about the new bus timetable across Lismore, school services and fares is available on the operator’s webpage

For more information about the NSW Government’s 16 Regional Cities Services Improvement Program visit


Route 682: Lismore to Goonellabah via Southern Cross University

Better connections with the services to North and South Lismore on weekdays

Additional trip on weekday evenings

Additional trip on Saturday midday

Additional trips on Saturday afternoons until 5.30pm

New trips on Sundays from 8.30am to 5pm

Route 683: Lismore to Lismore Heights via Southern Cross University

Additional trip on weekday early mornings with connection to North and South


Additional trip on Saturday mornings

Additional trips on Saturday afternoons until 5pm

New trips on Sundays from 9am to 4pm

Route 684: Lismore to South Lismore via East Lismore

Extension of early morning trip to commence from Lismore Base Hospital

Additional trips to the industrial area in North and South Lismore on weekday


Additional trips on Saturdays until 5pm

Route 685: Lismore to Goonellabah via Lismore Base Hospital & Lismore Heights

Better connections with the services to North and South Lismore on weekdays

Additional trip on weekday evenings

Additional trip on Saturday midday

Additional trips on Saturday afternoons until 4pm

Route 688 (Late-Nighter)

New trips on Saturdays early in the evening, travelling from Goonellabah to Lismore


Clarence Valley has also received an extra 41 bus services, however Lower Clarence residents shouldn't get too excited as the weekday two and a half hour wait between buses remains:

Newbus route changes

Route 373
• Extend weekday hours from 8:01am to 6:42am by introducing one additional trip on all weekday mornings starting at Spring St at Zuber Lane, South Grafton
• Extend weekday hours from 5:10pm to 6:10pm by introducing one additional trip on all weeknights
• Introduce a new weekday morning service at 10:46am to enhance morning service level
• Introduce a new Saturday service – 3 new trips at 9:40am, 12:40pm and 14:40pm

Route 374
• Extend weekday hours from 7:40pm to 9:20pm by introducing one additional trip on all weeknights
• All services after 5:30pm on a weekday will operate along Bimble Avenue, to provide consistency along the route throughout the day
• Extend Saturday hours from 5:13pm to 9:13pm by providing 3 additional trips at 6:13pm, 7:13pm and 9:13pm

Route 378
• Extend the weekday route 4:25pm inbound service (school holiday period only) to finish in Grafton CBD (Prince St at Fitzroy St)
• Extend the weekday route 7:18am outbound service (school holiday period only) to start in Grafton CBD (Grafton Fire Station, Prince St)

Route 380
• Extend weekday hours from Grafton to Yamba from 5:50pm by one hour to provide the last service at 6:50pm
• Extend weekday hours from Yamba to Grafton from 6:06pm by nearly two hours to provide the last service at 7:57pm
• Extend current Saturday 12:48pm service from Grafton to operate to Yamba, and 11:16am service from Yamba to operate to Grafton, reducing the gap between services from 5 hours to 3 hours
• Extend Saturday evening service from Grafton to Yamba by 2 hours by providing 1 additional service departing Grafton at 6:25pm
• Extend Saturday evening service from Yamba to Grafton by nearly 2 hours through an additional service departing Yamba at 7:32pm

Route 375A
• Introduce an additional trip on Saturday evenings at 6:52pm

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

For the second time since its 9 July 2020 first issue "The Northern Rivers Times" gets publicly admonished

Echo NetDaily, 9 October 2020:

Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith has called for an apology from the the Northern Rivers Times over their front page story about the nomination of general manager Shelly Oldman for the NSW Government Minister’s Awards for Women.

The Northern Rivers Times must immediately apologise to the General Manager of Lismore City Council Shelley Oldham, the Lismore community, and their own readers for the very personal hatchet job they did on its front page this week,’ he said in a press release this afternoon (Friday, 9 October, 2020).

The article is headed ‘YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!’ and finishes stating that, ‘The anger when the announcement was made was apparent on Social Media and the people in the street of Lismore and surrounds.’ [sic] The Northern Rivers Times further claimed that, ‘more than 3,000 readers made comments’ on Facebook or contacted their office.

The attack on our General Manager is totally without substance. It is cheap lousy “journalism” and our community deserves better,’ says Mayor Smith.

The Casino-based paper appears to have a personal vendetta against Ms Oldham and Lismore City Council. It is the second time they have personally attacked our General Manager. Last time they were forced to print a retraction for its factually incorrect story.

The current article, which was mostly a lazy cut and paste from social media, claims that “more than 3000 readers made comments (on Facebook)” or contacted its office following Ms Oldham’s nomination for a NSW Government Ministers Award for Women.

This not only reflects badly on Council but on all the great women nominated for these awards and the Minister’s office who promoted it.

In fact, just over 50 people made a comment across a number of Facebook pages.

Many of us in the community were very keen to support this new paper and were prepared to accept early missteps, but it has gone from bad to worse and has now lost our trust.

Newspapers and the media have great power in our society, but with it comes great responsibility.

The Northern Rivers Times has failed the responsibility test and must apologise.

Lismore City Council will no longer support the paper or assist its “journalists” as the paper has shown it is has no journalistic integrity and does not even attempt to provide fair, accurate and balanced reporting.’

The first newspaper article which caused comment was one published in July 2020 concerning an alleged sexual assault that was described on social media as 'a nasty, victim blaming story' and a 'suspect' article.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Nationals MP for Clarence is jumping up and down about the Clarence Valley being left out of the NSW-Qld border bubble. Well the fact of the matter is that the O'Farrell-Baird-Berejilkian Government has had 9 years to reverse the error that led to the current problem & neither he, his party or the government have addressed the issue


Sometime in the 21st Century the New South Wales Government invited a bee into its bonnet concerning a need to amalgamate regional local government areas with a view to eventually creating mega-councils and, when that policy was not greeted with enthusiasm (indeed sometimes with open rebellion) it decided to create communities of interest containing clusters of local government areas 'sharing' resources.

Down in Sydney - somewhere between Macquarie Street and Macquarie Towers - the state government decided to overturn the genuine Northern Rivers community of interest built up over the last 179 years and reclassify the Clarence Valley as "Mid-North Coast"

Although many in the Clarence Valley fought back against being lumped in with 'southerners' who did not share a good many of our values, aspirations or concerns, the state government kept insisting.

By 2006 only the Australian Bureau of Meteorology consistently referred to the Clarence Valley as being in the Northern Rivers region and much later the valley was included with the other historical Northern Rivers areas in the one state health district.

When it came to NSW Government agencies generally, they tended to gather data about the Clarence Valley, its communities and residents as part of the newly defined "Mid-North Coast".

We were frequently merged with Coffs Harbour when it came to recording crime, unemployment  levels, transport infrastructure and, at a regional planning level we were lumped with Coffs Harbour, Belligen, Nambucca, Kempsey, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Greater Taree and Great Lakes local government areas. 

Now the National Party members of the O'Farrel-Baird-Berejiklian Government were well aware of the fact that Clarence Valley communities never considered the reclassification was anything but a political move by a city-centric government and were instinctively refusing to turn their eyes south.

However, I do not recall any individual or combined push by Chris Gulapatis, Geoff Provest or Ben Franklin to reverse that "Mid-North Coast" label before the global pandemic intruded into the state.

So it should not come as a surprise that when the Queensland Government began to look for information about where the Clarence Valley was both geographically and socially when considering its response to COVID-19, it found us in what appeared to be a large population cluster which was too close for comfort to the outer fringes of heavily populated areas like the Hunter-Newcastle and Central Coast.

Former surveyor Chris Gulaptis can go to the newspapers calling the Clarence Valley's exclusion from the Northern Rivers border bubble "ridiculous", "bizarre, perplexing and unnecessary" but he has sat on his hands for almost nine years happily ignoring what locals had been telling him during those years - that the time would come when we would all rue the day that the NSW Government on paper ejected us from the Northern Rivers.

Cartography based solely on political ideology is a b*tch, Mr. Gulaptis. 

Friday, 2 October 2020

NSW Labor MLA Janelle Saffin supports rail trail and keeping options open for a return to rail


Office of the NSW Member for Lismore, media release, 30 September 2020:

Saffin supports rail trail and keeping options open for a return to rail

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has always supported a rail trail for the Northern Rivers as well as a Regional Integrated Transport Plan which includes keeping our rail corridor in public ownership for future rail services – light rail or a Very Fast Train.

Ms Saffin said she had never shied away from this dual position and it was a shame that some commentary on the Transport Administration Amendment (Closures of Railway Lines in Northern Rivers) Bill 2020 was causing division across the community.

My focus in Parliament last week was on ensuring that the Bill maintained the rail corridor in public hands, able to be brought back to train use without obstacles,” Ms Saffin said.

I negotiated two amendments with NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole (who introduced the Bill) that strengthened this so I find it perplexing that some people feel the need to attack me and plan to protest outside my office.

These amendments passed in the Legislative Assembly. The view I had heard many express was that the one-page Bill contained nothing unexpected.

The Bill is now with the Legislative Council which in October will review and debate it in detail.”

Ms Saffin said that when she was Federal Member for Page, rail trail advocates came to her, and even though it was a State issue, she told them that sounded fine but the rail corridor must remain in public ownership no matter what.

The then Page MP ran a community petition which achieved this goal and while Ms Saffin could not promise to bring back the train, she helped secure funding for a Regional Integrated Transport Plan which included rail transport as an option for the Northern Rivers and the Mid North Coast.

Ms Saffin said she went to the 2019 State election on the public record as supporting the rail trail so this was ‘no big secret’ and she had clearly restated her long-standing commitment to ensuring the rail corridor was protected.

While a few Greens Party members are predicting Ms Saffin will lose the next State election in 2023 because of her support for the Rail Trail Bill, Ms Saffin said this sounded more like political posturing.

New South Wales has a preferential voting system. Yes, The Greens and Labor exchange preferences but I am not a Green; I shape and make Labor policy based on Labor values of fairness and equity,” Ms Saffin said.

I meet with and listen to all sides and try my hardest to do what is best for our region.”

There were two Labor Opposition amendments put to the NSW Legislative Assembly with regard to the Transport Administration Amendment (Closures of Railway Lines in Northern Rivers) Bill 2020. Both were agreed to.

Amendment c2020-137A made clearer the bill's intent that the land within the rail corridor between Crabbes Creek and Condong and between Casino and Bentley remain in public ownership and, Amendment c2020-131B outlined the uses to which the land could be put.

The bill passed the NSW Legislative Council on 23 September 2020 with these amendments intact.

Monday, 28 September 2020

While the Northern NSW Nationals posture in the media about Queensland border restrictions and moves to protect the state's koalas, NSW Labor Member for Lismore is doing the hard yards

While Northern NSW Nationals Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest and Ben Franklin run to mainstream media outlets to huff and puff about Queensland's border restrictions and, Gulaptis in particular cries that the sky will fall if New South Wales koalas receive the protection they deserve, the NSW Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin just gets on with the job of representing her electorate.

Office of the Member for Lismore, media release, 25 September 2020:

Saffin pushes for immediate and strategic support of regional economy

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin is calling on the Berejeklian-Barilaro Government to deliver urgent financial support to businesses on the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands and to strategically establish a Special Activation Precinct to turbo charge the regional economy.

It will help our region climb out of COVID. We have projects ready, the collaboration and the will, but we need our share of New South Wales’ available resources, including the $1.75 billion owed to regional and rural NSW from Restart NSW, Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin has used a series of Notices of Motion to NSW Parliament to focus the Government’s attention on the Electorate of Lismore, still recovering from 2017’s major flood, drought, last year’s bushfires, this year’s COVID-19 lockdown and the Queensland-NSW border closure.

Ms Saffin said that while she had successfully lobbied for the Border Bubble to include the Lismore City, Byron Shire, Ballina Shire, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes Local Government Areas, many businesses were still hurting economically.

“NSW Business Northern Rivers estimates that businesses have been losing an average of $10,500 a week in revenue so there is still an urgent need for the Government to come good with a rescue package like the $45-million one it offered to NSW businesses near the Victorian border,” Ms Saffin said.

“I thought it was important for me to advocate for our region through a combination of Notices of Motion, Questions on Notice to Ministers and direct reps to Ministers, and at next week’s meeting with Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers, we can flesh this out in more detail.

“Having a Special Activation Precinct here on the Northern Rivers, and all of the extra government support that comes with these precincts, would give real teeth to my earlier calls for a Regional Jobs Plan.

“Another major issue is that the NSW Government has introduced a Whole of Government Procurement Policy for collecting waste from Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown reserves, squeezing out our local regional companies in favour of the big multinationals, and killing off local jobs.”

Ms Saffin has moved Notices of Motion on the need to develop and fund a Regional Jobs Plan; expanding Special Activation Precincts to the region; supporting small businesses impacted by the Queensland-NSW border closure; unlocking Restart NSW funding; and fairer Procurement Policies.

On a Regional Jobs (Employment Development) Plan, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Regional Development Australia’s Remplan Report estimates 15,471 jobs have vanished from the Northern Rivers regional economy between February and May 2020, with accommodation/hospitality and retail sectors hardest hit.

2. Notes job losses are similar in the New England North West Region.

3. Notes the Government needs to develop and fund a Regional Jobs Plan, coordinated by the NSW Department of Regional Development and enlisting the expertise of Regional Development Australia, Business NSW, local chambers of commerce, local government councils through joint organisations, business leaders, trade unions and all local Members.

On Special Activation Precincts, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government established Special Activation Precincts in Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Snowy Mountains, Moree and Williamtown to turbo charge these regional locations to become thriving business hubs through infrastructure investment, Government-led studies, Government-led development and business concierge services.

2. Recognises the need to expand the network of Special to the Northern Rivers region, home to many cutting-edge entrepreneurs in its stated range of industries, including freight and logistics, defence, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.

On Queensland-NSW Border Closure – Small Business Support, Ms Saffin  moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government moved quickly to provide a $45-million rescue package for New South Wales small businesses adversely impacted by its decision to close the NSW-Victorian border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2. Notes there is an urgent need for the Government to extend a similarly generous grant program to all local small businesses in Northern NSW, which, having endured drought and bushfires, are now really struggling to cope with the Queensland-NSW border closure.

On Restart NSW Funding, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government has failed to deliver the legislated commitment to allocate 30 per cent of Restart NSW funds to regional and rural New South Wales in any year since its inception, delivering only 18.9 per cent of $3 billion instead of $4.75 billion from 2012 to 2019.

2. Calls upon the Premier and the Deputy Premier to deliver the promises Restart NSW funding of 30 per cent each year and to pay the debt of $1.75 billion owing to the people of regional and rural New South Wales.

On Procurement Policies, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government’s Expression of Interest (EOI) for NSW Whole of Government Waste Management for Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown Reserves favours large operators and squeezes out small and medium size Australian-owned regional companies because the EOI effectively makes redundant the Government’s Small and Medium Enterprise and Regional Procurement Policy.

2. Recognises the need for an urgent review of these procurement policies and consultation with small and medium size regional companies to ensure that they still have a seat at the tendering table and are not disenfranchised to the point that their revenue streams can be reduced by a third, leading to job losses in Northern NSW during an economic recession.

Ms. Saffin gave notice of the aforementioned motions in the NSW Legislative Assembly on the following dates:


I note that there appears to have been no motions or speeches specifically on these matters in the same timespan by either Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest or Ben Franklin.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Dispatches from the Australian Koala Wars

Echo NetDaily, 21 September 2020:

The Knitting Nannas standing up (and sitting down) for koalas in Casino.

The Knitting Nannas are holding regular public knit-ins in Casino in support of NEFA, to raise awareness about Forestry operations logging in koala habitat in particular in Myrtle Forest, near Casino which was severely impacted by last summers’ fires.

The Nannas say recent surveys by Dailan Pugh and NEFA volunteers found evidence of koala scats in Myrtle forest and additional roosting trees.

The Nannas say the forest needs to recover to enable koalas to recover.

SpokesNanna Rosie said that the recent government report that found koalas will be extinct by 2050 in the wild makes this imperative. ‘It is estimated Banyabba koalas which range this forest lost 83% of their population. Last week we had a long chat to an old forester who agrees that current Forestry practices are not sustainable…….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 2020:

Almost three-quarters of key habitat the Berejiklian government was planning to set aside for koala protection was burned in last summer's fires.  
The government announced in May 2018 it would begin to address the decline of koala numbers including preserving extra habitat, according to a Planning Department paper dated June 23 this year. 

It started to transfer more state land to the national parks system, including 1382 hectares from the Mount Boss State Forest to the Kindee Creek area and 2080 hectares earmarked in the Carrai State Forest to the Willi Willi National Park. 

However, last season's devastating bushfires burnt more than 5 million hectares in the state. Of the state forests transferred to national park tenure, 72 per cent "were impacted", as were about 58 per cent proposed flora reserve, the documents show...... 

ABC News, 23 September 2020: 

Agreements to change logging rules in New South Wales to better protect animals that survived last summer's bushfires have been torn up by Deputy Premier John Barilaro's department and government-owned loggers, sparking yet another inter-government stoush over koala habitat.  

An explosive letter sent earlier this month to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) from the heads of the Department of Regional NSW — Mr Barilaro's department — and Forestry Corporation of NSW states there has now been "substantial recovery post-fire in many coastal state forests". 

It declares logging in NSW can return to "standard" this month in forests not covered by new site-specific logging rules. 

The letter comes despite an agreement struck between the loggers and the EPA earlier this year to only log areas according to those new rules. 

The letter sparked a fiery response from EPA boss Tracy Mackey, which was published yesterday on the EPA's website. 

She said the move did not appear to be lawful, and the EPA was now considering action to stop Forestry Corporation..... 

Other documents released to NSW Parliament earlier this month show the EPA believed the actions were partly motivated by the direction of Mr Barilaro, the Department of Regional NSW and Forestry Corporation. 

The documents also detail allegations that Forestry Corporation made false reports about its logging operations to avoid new protections.....

"Well the number of healthy and otherwise treatable Koala who have died from being hit on our roads this year is ridiculous, irreplaceable & equates to many future generations of Koala not being born." [Maria Mathes @talkingkoala, NSW Northern Rivers region, 17 September 2020]

Where is my tree?

The Guardian, 22 September 2020:

The former head of the New South Wales Young Nationals and chair of its women’s council has resigned from the party joining a growing list of high-profile members to quit in the wake of the koala policy saga. 

Jess Price-Purnell, an almost decade-long member of the Nationals, has left, describing the threat by John Barilaro to blow up the Coalition government over the koala policy saga “despicable”. 

It comes as the NSW Coalition held its first joint party room meeting since Barilaro was forced to back down over his threat to pull the Nationals out of the Coalition after the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, issued an ultimatum to either support the policy or resign from the ministry....


NorthEast Forest Alliance (NEFA), excerpts from website:

* The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) travelled out to Braemar State Forest in July 2019 to survey and protect koala habitat under logging rules that meant areas significant koala use would need to be protected. 

What we discovered blew us away with an exceptional population of an estimated 60+ koalas at risk of logging. 

Scat searches indicate there are over 100ha of Koala High Use areas – unprecedented in State Forests. What we found was so compelling that we returned multiple times and completed four different audits of koala evidence in the area. 

When we submitted this data to Forestry Corporation of NSW they simply announced they would be logging Braemar State Forest under the new logging rules meaning no koala habitat will be protected. 

We have estimated that homes of over 60 koalas will be decimated if this logging were to go ahead - unthinkable while local koala populations have halved in just 20 years. (source) With logging due to commence, we are turning to the community to come together in support of Braemar's koalas. 

We can stop this devastation, but we need your help....

* NEFA are preparing a proposal for the 7,000 ha Sandy Creek Koala Park covering significant Koala habitat in Braemar, Carwong, Royal Camp and Ellangowan State Forests, as well native vegetation on land Forestry Corporation purchased for pine plantations. The values of these forests for Koalas are documented in our audits,

These encompass a regionally significant Koala population in forests that have been degraded by logging, though are capable of supporting an expanding Koala population if left alone.

We were dismayed when on the night of 8 October the Busby's Flat fire changed direction and burnt out most of the proposal overnight. It was an anxious time while we waited to get in there and see how the Koalas had fared.

The good news was that while the understorey was incinerated, the fire had rarely crowned meaning quite a few Koalas survived. The bad news is that the crowns of most trees were cooked by the intense heat and the leaves have since died, leaving large areas devoid of food and most of the surviving Koalas with little to eat. 

NEFA have been assessing core Koala colonies and found that Koalas are surviving in the areas where large scattered feed trees, or patches of trees, have retained most of their canopies. With limited fresh feed and desiccated leaves some Koalas are dehydrated, and severely so. A report on this is available at 

This regionally significant Koala population has been severely affected by the fire, it has set back its recovery by decades. Help is needed to stabilise the population if further decline is to be averted. The last thing they need is for forestry to log their remaining feed trees.....