The NSW minister for the environment must show leadership and not pander to the anti-environment agenda of the National Party.
With backing from the Nationals, the Shooters and Fishers Party has introduced the Native Vegetation Amendment Bill 2014, which will allow broad-scale clearing in certain circumstances.
A gutting of the Native Vegetation Act was foreshadowed by the National Party and they have found the Shooters and Fishers as willing sponsors to do this.
During budget estimates last week, the environment minister assured the committee that he, not the Nationals’ Kevin Humphries, was accountable for the Native Vegetation Act.
I now call on the environment minister to show leadership, not pander to the Nationals’ agenda, and nip the bill in the bud and protect our biodiversity.
The environment minister has a very clear choice. He can commit the government to defeating this bill or be the minister that took New South Wales back to the bad old days of broadscale clearing.
The Greens will vigorously oppose any attempt to weaken our environmental laws.
The government has already started down the road of watering down biodiversity protections through a weakened Native Vegetation Regulation, and now a wholesale review of biodiversity legislation is underway.
If the government does not intend to wind back environmental protections, what is the purpose of the Biodiversity Review and why is it being rushed through?
Since 1788, 61 per cent of the original native vegetation of NSW has been cleared, thinned or significantly disturbed, most of which has occurred in the last 50 years.
A healthy environment, economy and farming sector depends on strong biodiversity outcomes.
Native vegetation also controls erosion through protecting soils and river banks, and improves water quality and availability.
Farms with good native vegetation coverage can improve land value, increase production outcomes and reduce operating costs.
Conserving native vegetation has become even more critical because of the threats climate change poses for biodiversity.
Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, Greens NSW MP and environment spokesperson