Nationals candidate for Page, Kevin Hogan, has thrown his hat in the ring in support of demands to log national parks, including potentially five in his own electorate.
Mr Hogan, together with Nationals senate candidate Barnaby Joyce, made the comments to reporters outside his election launch event.
Mr Hogan left the door open in a backhand remark caught by NBN television news.
‘There are certainly parts of our forest network around our national parks that you don’t want them to go into and I don’t think there would be certain parts of our national parks that they would want to go into,’ he told the network.
Mr Joyce was even more outspoken, saying, ‘I believe in people having jobs. I believe in a timber industry. I believe the green Labor Party stands behind shutting down the timber industry by basically saying that everything is sacred.’
North East Forestry Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh responded, ‘It now appears that the federal National Party is intent on acceding to the loggers demands to open up national parks for logging. The question is now whether the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott will agree to this.
‘Electors have a right to know if a vote for an Abbott government is a vote for logging national parks.’
Mr Pugh told Echonetdaily this morning that NEFA had contacted both sitting members and opposition candidates for Richmond and Page ‘on a number of occasions’ but that none had explicitly ruled out logging in the state’s national parks.
He said that the issue is critical because, while the state has responsibility for national parks, they are agreed under a federal reserve system.
‘There is a state-Commonwealth agreement that commits to having our existing parks protected and logging is specifically excluded. So there are commitments there at both levels, so if NSW were to do it unilaterally then the Commonwealth could cancel the Regional Forest Agreement and that would have all sorts of implications.’
Mr Pugh said the loggers had singled out 43 national parks and other conservation reserves in northeastern NSW for revocation, stating that they also want ‘whatever other reserves are necessary to maintain current yields in the long term’.
‘The national parks proposed for revocation by the FPA include forests identified as qualifying for World Heritage Listing, areas of core koala habitat, and irreplaceable stands of oldgrowth forest, such as those at Chaelundi described by Justice Stein as “a veritable forest-dependent zoo, probably unparalleled in southeastern Australia”,’ he said.
In Richmond these include Wollumbin, Mebbin and Goonengerry national parks, along with Wollumbin and Whian Whian state conservation areas and part of Nightcap National Park; and in Page they are Bungawalbin and Chaelundi state conservation areas, along with parts of Guy Fawkes River, Chaelundi and Nymboi-Binderay national parks.
Burning old-growth forests
NEFA is also protesting against changes to government regulation that would allow logging offcuts to be burnt to generate so-called ‘sustainable’ electricity.
This follows timber company Boral moving out of export woodchipping and reducing some of its hardwood timber operations in NSW earlier this year.
‘What has happened as a consequence of that is that Boral are saying, “we’ve got this huge pile of woodchips…” and now they want to burn them for biomass.
‘They’ve merely defined another market for what they were selling as woodchips,’ Mr Pugh said.