Showing posts with label protected species. Show all posts
Showing posts with label protected species. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Northern Regional Planning Panel to consider 140 lot development on 19 September 2019



29 August 2019 

Dear Sir or Madam 

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING – NORTHERN REGIONAL PLANNING PANEL 

The panel will meet to determine the following development application: 

  2015NTH026 – Clarence Valley – SUB2015/0034 ‐ Hickey Street, Iluka ‐ 140 lot residential (Community Title) subdivision and new roads 

Relevant documents will be available on the Planning Panels website www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/planningpanels at least seven days before the meeting. 

The purpose of the meeting is to give interested people the opportunity to speak directly to the panel before a decision is made. If you wish to present to the panel, you must register to speak by contacting the Planning Panels Secretariat before 4pm Tuesday, 17 September 2019 on 02 8217 2060 or via email to enquiry@planningpanels.nsw.gov.au 

Any person is welcome to attend the public meeting to observe. 

The panel is required to make an audio record of the meeting and make the recording publicly available on the Planning Panels website. You should be aware that this may include your personal information if you are presenting to the panel. 

The panel will aim to publish its decision on the Planning Panels website within 7 days of the meeting. 

 Guidelines for speakers 

 As a guide, individuals will have 3 minutes to speak, a community group will have 10 minutes in total, and the applicant, including consultant(s), a total of 15 minutes to present and address issues raised in public submissions. Any requests for extending time limits are to be granted at the discretion of the Chair. 

 Please consider focussing your oral submission on how the assessment report has addressed your concerns, as the panel will have read your written submission before the meeting. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Planning Panels Secretariat on 02 8217 2060. 

Yours sincerely 

Lisa Foley Project Officer

Clarence Valley Council voted to recommend the subdivision 6 to 1 on 27 August 2019.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Presentations on the plight of Koala populations will be held at Maclean and Lawrence on 14 August 2019 - be there to support Lower Clarence koalas


Koala at Lawrence in the Lower Clarence Valley
Photograph supplied

Deborah Tabart, Chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation is coming to brief the local community on the plight of koalas and why we need a Koala Protection Act. 

It is amazing that we do not have such an Act to protect one of Australia’s iconic animals. As we know, koala numbers are declining and this issue is now very topical in our area, especially around Lawrence, where koala habitat trees are under threat.

Ms Tabart will be visiting Lawrence and adding the koalas there to the Foundation’s koala map. If you know where koalas are living in the Lower Clarence please come along to the presentation to make sure that all the koala habitats are added to the map. 

There will be two information sessions in the Clarence Valley on Wednesday the 14th August one at 11 AM and one at 6.00 PM. 

Maclean Branch of the NSW Country Women’s Association invites everyone to the Koala presentation at 11 AM on Wednesday 14 August at the CWA Rooms, 40 River Street, Maclean followed by a light lunch. 

A donation of $5 is requested to help with catering. Please let the CWA know via Linda if you are coming so that we will have enough chairs and lunch. Ring Linda on 02 66 47 7373 or email santilinda@aapt.net.au 

The next session is at 6 PM in the evening at the Lawrence Hall, located between the pub and the shop, with a light supper provided for free. 

Ring or text Elizabeth on 0407 883 656 or email elizabethparker96@rocketmail.com. It helps to know how many to cater for. 

These events are friendly and informal and a great way to meet interesting people. 

Bring your Koala questions and your appetite.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

When local people power has a win


The rejection of a $25 million development at Byron Bay’s Ewingsdale Rd for a 282-lot subdivision was met with thunderous applause.
Villa World’s plan for a controversial development was unanimously rejected by members of the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel at a meeting on Monday.
It was the second DA for the West Byron site to be refused by the panel, as a $40 million development put forward by West Byron Landowners Group was rejected earlier this year.
Numerous speakers pleaded with the NRPP on many grounds, including that they “did not want a Gold Coast” in Byron Bay.
The proposal was refused on 10 grounds including: adverse impacts to surrounding properties; a significant visual impact and undesirable impact on the street scape inconsistent with the northern entrance to Byron Bay; the development was likely to have had adverse impacts on threatened species and ecosystems; no adequate discharge of storm water and was not considered in the public’s interest.
Echo NetDaily, 9 April 2019:

No social or environmental license

Newly reelected MP Tamara Smith said this another great win for our community and people power. ‘The thousands of community submissions and actions highlighting the fundamental flaws in developing this land have successfully culminated in the NRPP rejecting both subdivision plans – against the odds,’ she said.

‘With the rejection of both the West Byron subdivision applications by the NRPP the developers should immediately approach the State government and request that they buy the land and restore it to the Cumbebin Swamp Reserve.

Ms Smith said there is no social or environmental license for a subdivision of the swamp land known as West Byron. ‘So why waste more money on legal battles when the community is utterly opposed.

‘Restitution is on offer for the landowners and they should jump at the chance to be made whole and walk away. They need only look to Condon Hill at Lennox to see decades of iconic land ownership that has never passed muster to see development on it. Get out now is my advice.

‘I strongly advise Byron Shire Council to shelve any idea of a reduced sub-division and instead respectfully ask them to help me actually deliver what the community wants – No West Byron Mega-development.”

Justifiable opposition

Former Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham also spoke to the panel. She said she wanted to acknowledge the amazing efforts of the community in their justifiable opposition to the inappropriate proposals for the West Byron lands.

‘This development fails on every point,’ she said. ‘From the destruction of biodiversity and the threat to the local koala population and wallum froglet, the filling of a flood prone area, likely negative impact on the Belongil Creek and the Cape Byron Marine Park and further traffic chaos on Ewingsdale Road, that will not be alleviated by the bypass.

‘I’m confident these points have been raised in sufficient detail in the submissions to inform a refusal.’

Ms Barham summed up the general feeling on the day. ‘The refusal of Villa World by the Planning Panel alongside the previous West Byron refusal, justifies years of commitment by our community to protect and preserve our special place, with evidence, passion and genuine concern for the future,’ she said after the decision was announced.

‘It makes me feel so proud to be a member of an activist community who knows the value of standing up for what we believe in and thankfully, this time, the independence of the process delivered the right outcome.

‘Well done to everyone who took the time to be involved, no doubt there will be more challenges to come but the refusals vindicates us and our role as protectors.’

Monday, 14 May 2018

Here we are on the NSW North Coast living amid remnants of the splendor that was Australia in 1788.....


....and it is fading and dying before our very eyes, while the Turnbull Coalition Government follows in the footsteps of the Abbott Coalition Government by turning its back on us and our concerns.

North Coast Environment Council, media release, 7 May 2018:


… SCIENTISTS ARE THE NEXT CASUALTIES …

Malcolm Turnbull's Government has launched yet another offensive on the environment, with the announcement it was sacking dozens of scientists.

“The rivers of cash that the government has to splash around don't extend to environmental protection,” said Susie Russell, North Coast Environment Council Vice-President.

“This will have a significant impact on north coast forests. We have been relying on the Recovery Planning process to guarantee some protection for nationally endangered species. Only last month, NCEC was a signatory (with NEFA, the National Parks Association and the South East Region Conservation Alliance) to a letter to federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. We pleaded for Canberra to take its environmental responsibilities seriously. We pointed out that the NSW Government was not abiding by Federal Recovery Plans for threatened species.


The Greater Glider is one of the species where a Recovery Plan is required, but nothing gets produced.
Photo by Jasmine Zeleny.


Monday, 7 May 2018

Early end to NSW North Coast shark nets trial and Berejiklian Government urged not to reinstate the controversial strategy.


Echo NetDaily, 3 May 2018:

Local Greens MP Tamara Smith and animal rights activists have welcomed the early end to the North Coast shark nets trial and urged the State Government not to reinstate the controversial strategy.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair announced on Wednesday that the nets would begin coming out immediately owing to the early start of the whale migration season in the region.

The migration officially started on May 1, a month earlier than last year.
Ms Smith said on Thursday that the cessation of the trial should be permanent, and that other measures should be used to enhance community safety.

‘There is no scientific evidence and little community support for putting shark nets back in the waters off the North Coast,’ Ms Smith said in a press release.

‘The data from the North Coast Shark Net Trial is yet more evidence that the shark netting program in NSW does little to keep people safe in the water but takes a terrible toll on local marine life.

‘I support shark spotting by trained personnel such as Shark Watch volunteers or Surf Life Savers, using binoculars and drones.’

According to departmental statistics from the trial, just two of the 132 marine creatures caught in the nets between November 23, 2017 and March 31 this year was a target shark.

Among the other animals caught were a small number of threatened species, including Green Turtles and Great Hammerhead sharks, as well as 23 rays.

Forty-nine of the animals caught in the nets were killed…..

If any reader has a mind to support the permanent removal of these shark nets they can write, phone or email:

NSW Premier Hon. Gladys Berejiklian
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001
PH (02) 8574 5000

NSW Deputy Premier Hon. John Barilaro
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001
PH (02) 8574 5150

NSW Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001
PH (02)  8574 6107


Monday, 19 February 2018

Surprise, Surprise. Nationals appear to be telling pork pies to voters on the NSW North Coast yet again



Echo NetDaily, 15 Februaty 2018:

An animal activist has accused two National Party MPs of 'misleading the public' over claims the RMS has revegetated more than a hundred hectares of land along the Pacific Highway Ballina upgrade route with tens of thousands of koala feed trees.
In recent weeks both roads minister Melinda Pavey and north coast MLC Ben Franklin have made public statements regarding the re-vegetation of koala habitat at Meerschaum Vale to compensate for the damage caused by the highway upgrade construction.
On February 3, Minister Pavey said in a press release that 'the government had re-vegetated 130 hectares of land with 95,000 koala feed trees.'
Then on February 9, Mr Franklin said that 'about 110 hectares, equating to 80,000 koala food trees had so far been planted and there were plans to plant another 20 hectares as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Upgrade.'

Empty paddock

But co-ordinator of Australians For Animals, Sue Arnold, told Echonetdaily she took a field trip to the re-vegetation site earlier this week, which 'revealed an empty paddock with no koala feed trees planted in spite of a sign indicating that the planting was part of a "130 hectares of Koala Food Trees planted".'
Ms Arnold said she was unable to find any other planting sites in the vicinity.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Shark Attacks in Australia: setting the record straight


On Saturday 23 December 2017 Liberal MP for Kooyong and Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Fydenberg penned a media release claiming big bad sharks were about to overwhelm his home state, Western Australia.

The shark in question is the Great WhiteCarcharodon carcharias, classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and currently protected as vulnerable and migratory in the Australian EEZ and state waters under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Federal Minister Frydenberg home for the parliamentary break is of course playing local WA politics during the silly season - having forgotten or ignored the fact that the White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) Recovery Plan falls within his ministerial portfolio.

However, it does appear hard for many other politicians to accept that, in the 224 years of human-shark interaction record keeping undertaken since 1788, the number of deaths due to shark attack barely equates to one death per year along the est. 59,736 kilometres of coastline in this country.

Here are a few facts which are on that record.

A ‘shark attack’ is defined in the ASAF as any human–shark interaction where either a shark (not in captivity) makes a determined attempt to attack a person who is alive and in the water or the shark attacks equipment held by the victim or attacks a small-water craft containing the victim…..

Over the 218 years for which records were available, there have been 592 recorded unprovoked incidents in Australian waters, comprising 178 fatalities, 322 injuries and 92 incidents where no injury occurred. Most of these attacks have occurred since 1900, with 540 recorded unprovoked attacks, including 153 fatalities, 302 injuries and 85 incidents where no injury occurred. Attacks have occurred around most of the Australian coast, most frequently on the more densely populated eastern coast and near major cities…

In the 20 years since 1990, there have been 186 reported incidents, including 22 fatalities (Table 1). This represents a 16% increase in reported attacks during 1990–1999 and a 25% increase over the past 10 years (Fig. 3). The majority of attacks occurred in New South Wales (NSW) with 73 incidents (39%), then Queensland with 43 incidents (23%), Western Australia (WA) with 35 incidents (19%), South Australia with 20 incidents (11%), Victoria with 12 incidents (6%), Tasmania with two incidents (1.5%) and Northern Territory with one incident (0.5%)…..

[CSIRO, Marine and Freshwater Research, 2011, Shark Attacks In Australia, p.745]

SHARK ATTACKS AUSTRALIA-WIDE JANUARY 2012 to NOVEMBER 2017

2012 – 22 attacks (8 provoked) in total, 2 fatalities and 14 attacks involving injury

2013 – 14 attacks (4 provoked) in total, 2 fatalities and 10 attacks involving injury

2014 – 23 attacks (12 provoked) in total, 5 fatalities and 14 attacks involving injury

2015 – 33 attacks (11 provoked) in total, 2 fatalities and 23 attacks involving injury

2016 – 26 cases (9 provoked) in total, 2 fatalities and 16 attacks involving injury

2017 – 19 attacks (2 provoked) in total, 1 fatality and 11 attacks involving injury [up to 24 November 2017]

[Taronga Conservation Society AustraliaThe Australian Shark Attack File (ASAF), Annual Report Summary]

Throughout the world, human populations are increasing whereas shark populations are decreasing because of direct and indirect human impact (Castro et al. 1999). There is evidence that at least some shark populations in Australia have declined as a result of commercial and recreational fishing pressure (Punt and Walker 1998; Punt et al. 2000; Simpfendorfer et al. 2000; McAuley et al. 2007…..

Patterns of attack have changed substantially over time as a result of the changing population and human behaviour. If human activity related to water-based activities and the use of beaches, harbours and rivers continues to change, we can expect to see further changes in the patterns, distribution, frequency and types of attacks in the future. Encounters with sharks, although a rare event, will continue to occur if humans continue to enter the ocean professionally or for recreational pursuit.

It is important to keep the risk of a shark attack in perspective. On average, 87 people drown at Australian beaches each year (SLSA 2010), yet there have been, on average, only 1.1 fatalities per year from shark attack over the past two decades. It is clear that the risk of being bitten or dying from an unprovoked shark attack in Australia remains extremely low.

[CSIRO, Marine and Freshwater Research, 2011, Shark Attacks In Australia]

ABC News, 8 February 2016:

The shark nets used on Sydney beaches in New South Wales do nothing to reduce the chance of attacks, a statistical analysis has found.

Associate Professor Laurie Laurenson from Deakin University's School of Life and Environmental Sciences has analysed 50 years of data about shark mitigation programs and coastal populations in NSW and South Africa.

He told Four Corners reducing the density of local shark populations did not reduce the likelihood of shark attack.

"I can show statistically that there is no relationship between the number of sharks out there and the number of shark attacks," he said.

"It's just simply not there … I'm surprised that it's not there, but it's not there."

It is the first time a comprehensive analysis has been done in an effort to link populations of sharks and people and the number of attacks in netted areas.

The findings are included in an unpublished paper which is in the process of being peer reviewed.

"We could not demonstrate a statistically significant relationship between the density of the sharks and the number of attacks in the localised area around Sydney where there have been historically large numbers of attacks and there've been large numbers of mitigation programs," Dr Laurenson said.

In early 2017 North Coast Voices observed about the predictably lethal consequences of shark netting that the NSW North Coast marine species protection record is a very sad affair.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Is the Berejiklian Government treating a conservation trust & koala protection fund as a method to pork barrel on the NSW North Coast ahead of the next state election?


The koala population of New South Wales ends the year as it began - in danger of localised extinction on the NSW North Coast and widespread extinction across the state.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 2017:

Koala populations are under siege in many parts of NSW, including the far north coast of NSW. 
Photo: Cole Bennetts

The Berejiklian government proceeded to buy two blocks of land for koala habitat, overriding internal concerns the purchases were "not a priority" as protections were already in place.

The acquisition of the land in the Tweed Shire earlier this year comes as a new poll finds strong strong local support for new koala national parks.

There is also confirmation the state's new biodiversity conservation act prevents threatened regional populations of any species - including koalas - securing elevated endangered status.

Documents released under freedom of information to the North Coast Environment Centre (NCEC) reveal Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) staff doubted the benefits of paying almost $1 million for about 104 hectares of land for koala protection near Pottsville, north of Byron Bay……

Ashley Love, a spokesman for the North Coast Environment Council, said the spending appeared aimed at shoring up support for National MPs in marginal electorates in the region.

Mr Love is also concerned the government will squander the $10 million koala fund - meant to protect "vital" habitat - and a separate $240 million biodiversity conservation trust to protect land with high conservation values.

"It was a bad precedent at the very beginning of when this government's going to spend a lot of money on private land," he said…..

A ReachTEL of 700 residents in the state seat of Lismore found 68.3 per cent of participants in Lismore town and 71.9 per cent in Ballina support the creation of national parks to protect koalas from logging and land clearing.

"This polling shows that were the government to create them, they would be broadly welcomed,"  Alix Goodwin, chief executive of the NSW National Parks Association, said.

"We expect that the forthcoming Whole of Government Koala Strategy will reflect the wishes of the community and include new protected areas."

The new biodiversity conservation act, which is widely viewed as easing controls on land-clearing, has also stripped the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee of its ability to highlight localised threats to species.

The independent NSW Scientific Committee made a preliminary finding in August that the koala population near Port Stephens was endangered as it is '"facing a very high risk of extinction in NSW in the near future."

However, the new conservation regulations passed later that month precluded a local population of a species from having a separate rating if it already listed. Koalas are deemed "vulnerable" in NSW.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Shark management on the NSW North Coast


Senate Environment and Communications References Committee, Inquiry Report, Shark mitigation and deterrent measures, December 2017:

List of recommendations
Recommendation 1
8.19 The committee recommends that the New South Wales and Queensland Governments:
* immediately replace lethal drum lines with SMART drum lines; and
* phase out shark meshing programs and increase funding and support for the development and implementation of a wide range of non-lethal shark mitigation and deterrent measures.
8.20 The committee further recommends that the Australian Government pursue this recommendation at a future Meeting of Environment Ministers.
Recommendation 2
8.28 The committee recommends that, while state government lethal shark control programs remain in place, management arrangements for these programs should include more effective and transparent catch monitoring with the objective of improving understanding of the efficacy of lethal measures for public safety and the effects of the measures on the populations of marine species.
Recommendation 3
8.29 The committee recommends that the Australian Government:
* establish a publicly accessible national database of target and non-target species interactions with shark control measures; and
* require the Department of the Environment and Energy to use this information to prepare and publish an annual assessment of the impacts of lethal shark control measures on target and non-target marine species.
Recommendation 4
8.30 The committee recommends that state governments review and regularly audit the quality of the data collected on target and non-target species interactions with shark control measures.
Recommendation 5
8.37 The committee recommends that the Australian Government establish a review into the effectiveness of shark research and, following the review, commit to providing funding on a long-term basis for research areas that are considered likely to significantly contribute to improved knowledge about effective shark mitigation and deterrent measures.
Recommendation 6
8.38 The committee recommends that the Australian Government review the funding provided to CSIRO to enable CSIRO to:
* undertake ongoing data collection and monitoring to support the determination of white shark population trends;
* develop a predictive model of shark abundance and location; and
*• undertake a social survey to determine how the behaviour of water users has changed in response to the recent human–shark interactions.
8.39 The committee further recommends that the Australian Government seek advice from CSIRO as to whether research can be undertaken to address anecdotal evidence presented to the committee on the potential risk that certain ocean-based activities, such as the use of teaser baits in cage diving, crayfish pots and trophy hunting, might increase the risk of human–shark interactions. The Australian Government should review the funding provided for marine science research to enable CSIRO (or another research institution) to conduct the research CSIRO advises could be undertaken.
Recommendation 7
8.42 The committee recommends that the Australian Government initiate discussions with state and Northern Territory governments regarding the clinical information collected about shark bite incidents to enable subsequent expert analysis of shark behaviour.
Recommendation 8
8.46 The committee recommends that the Australian Government match funding provided by state governments in support of the development of new and emerging shark mitigation and deterrent measures.
Recommendation 9
8.52 The committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a process to ensure products marketed as personal shark deterrent devices are independently verified as being fit-for-purpose.
Recommendation 10
8.53 The committee recommends that the Minister for the Environment and Energy and relevant state governments work with key stakeholder groups, such as national surfing organisations, to encourage water users to take all reasonable steps to reduce the probability of being involved in a shark bite incident, including by endorsing the use of independently verified personal deterrent devices.
Recommendation 11
8.55 The committee recommends that the Western Australian Government's trial rebate program for independently verified personal deterrent devices be made ongoing in Western Australia and adopted by other relevant state governments.
8.56 The committee further recommends that relevant state governments consider developing programs for subsidising independently verified personal deterrent devices for occasional surfers at beaches associated with the risk of dangerous shark encounters.
Recommendation 12
8.62 The committee recommends that the Australian Government hold a National Shark Summit of shark experts.
Recommendation 13
8.63 The committee recommends that the Australian Government establish a National Shark Stakeholder Working Group comprising key stakeholders in shark management policies. The principal function of the Working Group would be to further the objective of ending lethal shark control programs by developing strategies and facilitating information sharing about the effective use of non-lethal measures.
Recommendation 14
8.68 The committee recommends that the National Shark Stakeholder Working Group review the adequacy of information available to beachgoers regarding the risk presented by sharks, such as signage at beaches and how real-time information provided through shark alert apps can be made available at beaches.
Recommendation 15
8.69 The committee recommends that the Australian Government, working with relevant state governments, develop a program to provide grants for specialised trauma kits at venues near beaches associated with the risk of human–shark encounters.
Recommendation 16
8.70 The committee recommends that relevant state governments review the water safety education programs and education about sharks generally that is provided in schools (particularly schools in coastal areas), with a view to enhancing the education provided on reducing the risk of shark interactions and improving knowledge about shark behaviour and the ecological value of sharks.
8.71 As part of these reviews, the committee recommends that state governments consider the role that relevant community and scientific organisations with expertise in human–shark encounters could have in supporting the delivery of such programs.
Recommendation 17
8.72 The committee recommends that the National Shark Stakeholder Working Group review the various social media accounts and apps that distribute real-time information about shark sightings and warnings about the risk of shark activity to consider whether an integrated national database and app should be established.
Recommendation 18
8.74 The committee recommends that the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries improve its consultation and communication with animal rescue groups regarding marine wildlife caught in or injured by lethal shark control measures.
Recommendation 19
8.80 In light of the repeated use of section 158 exemptions for lethal shark control programs, the committee recommends that the next independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 carefully consider whether section 158 is operating as intended. In particular, the committee recommends that the independent review consider:
* whether the matters the Minister may consider in determining the national interest should be limited; and
* whether section 158 should be amended to prohibit the repeated granting of exemptions for the same controlled action or any other controlled action of a similar nature.
Recommendation 20
8.81 The committee recommends that the Minister for the Environment and Energy refrain from granting exemptions under section 158 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for matters relating to shark control programs until after the operation of section 158 has been reviewed in accordance with Recommendation 19.

The burning question which flows from these recommendations is: Will the Berejiklian Government listen?

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The NSW Government’s Latest Attack On The Environment


How important is protection of the natural environment to the NSW Government? 
Many in the community believe that the Government gives it a very low priority.   There are even some who would assert that the NSW Coalition Government is conducting a war on the environment.
Concern about the Government’s environmental attitudes is the inevitable result of a series of its policies and legislation over recent years.  A few examples are its original very strong support for CSG and unconventional gas mining[1], its weakening of land-clearing and biodiversity protection laws[2], its strong support of coal mine expansions despite community opposition[3], and more recently, its plan to change the law to enable Lithgow’s Springvale Mine to stay open despite its threat to Sydney’s water catchment[4].
The latest major threat to the natural environment in NSW is the re-structure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).  The National Parks and Wildlife Service, a part of the Office of Environment and Heritage,  manages more than 870 national parks and reserves covering over 7 million hectares of land  which is more than 9% of the state’s land area.
The restructure which is currently under way involves the amalgamation of administrative areas, and either the loss of experienced officers or their demotion to what will be little more than clerical roles with substantially reduced salaries.  In addition there are serious concerns about the effect of the changes on fire-fighting capacity as well as on pest management.
The changes resulting from this restructure will have serious effects throughout the state.
Grafton on the NSW North Coast, for years an administrative centre for NPWS, will lose that function. Despite Grafton’s location in the geographical centre of the new region, the administrative headquarters is being transferred to Coffs Harbour. 
Clarence Valley locals, having seen over recent years the steady transfer of state government jobs from Grafton to Coffs Harbour, are angry about this.  What makes this decision even more nonsensical to some Clarence residents is that the Clarence Valley LGA (Local Government Area) contains one of the biggest areas of national parks on the North Coast.  Clarence Valley Mayor, Cr Jim Simmons, pointed out recently that the Clarence had 2,262 sq km of national parks, 22% of the Council area, while Coffs Harbour, has only 42 sq km – a mere 4% of the Coffs council area.
While there is concern about job losses, the loss of expertise in the Service and the impact of this drawn-out and unfair process on the Service officers, there is another major concern – the long-term effect on our very important national parks estate.  Despite the claims by politicians, including the Nationals Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, this is a cost-cutting exercise at a time when the Government has boasted about a record budget surplus of $4.5 billion.  Any claim that it is not cost-cutting when the NPWS budget has been reduced by $121 million is obviously ludicrous.
However, it is probably more than just a cost-cutting exercise.  It is almost certain that it is at least partly driven by the ideology of the Coalition Government a core part of which, according to John Menadue[5], is commercializing and privatising public assets.
With reference to this, Menadue said: “A clear case at the moment is the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. It is being deliberately underfunded and forced to seek private funding and promoting commercial access to public parks.
“Yet this is happening when, with growing population density, we have a greatly increased need for public parks, gardens and open space. Furthermore, we were able to fund our public parks for decades in the past when we were much poorer than we are today. We need to protect our parks more than ever and we have more money to do so. Yet state governments are screwing national parks with funds to force commercialization and privatization.”
In the same post Menadue quoted figures from John Benson about the downgrading of the NPWS[6]. The number of rangers has been reduced by more than 90 over seven years. Only two of 14 regional managers have been appointed after a restructure and a similar threat faces critical staff at the area management level. Staff is so reduced in some regions that basic amenities cannot be maintained and a lack of field staff presence disappoints public visitor expectations.”
Despite all the spin from politicians and bureaucrats, it is obvious that the government intends to downgrade our national parks and is setting up the National Parks and Wildlife Service for failure. If the community, including that in our local area, does not protest vehemently enough, we will be stuck with this vandalism until this arrogant government is removed.
Hildegard
Northern Rivers

Footnotes
[1] In particular for Metgasco in the Northern Rivers – until the very strong community opposition forced a buy-back of the Metgasco licence.
[2] The 2016 Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act. There are strong concerns that this legislation will lead to huge biodiversity loss and allow broadscale land clearing.
[6] John Benson’s post on Menadue’s blog - https://johnmenadue.com/john-benson-biodiversity-is-threatened-in-new-south-wales/  provides an interesting view of the former world class quality of the NSW national parks estate and its current decline.

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GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.