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Byron Shire
September 25, 2023

NSW Forestry cancels court ordered site inspection of Newry State Forest by Elders

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Aunty Alison and Aunty Lauren on Gumbaynggirr Country at Newry State Forest. Photo supplied

Gumbaynggirr Elder Uncle Micklo and the oldest and most senior Gumbaynggirr Elder living on Gumbaynggirr Country Uncle Bud Marshall brought a successful application to the Land and Environment Court (L&EC) that halted logging at the Newry State Forest on 22 August. They were supported by Gumbaynggirr elders Aunty Alison and Aunty Lauren.

The Judge accepted an undertaking from Forestry to stop all logging in the forest to allow for a site inspection by Gumbaynggirr Elders of sacred and significant sites in the forest that the NSW Forestry had been logging. It had been arranged for the elders to go for the inspection on Friday, 1 September, however, at the last minute they were contacted by NSW Forestry to cancel the site inspection. 

The Judge also accepted an undertaking that the stop on logging should extend to the substantial hearing set down for November 14, 16 and 17 in the L&EC. 

‘Last night (31 August) Forestry said they were going to call off the site inspection, then they said they wanted to delay for another two weeks. They are due back in court on Tuesday (5 September) and the site inspection is supposed to have taken place,’ said Al Oshlack, from the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network who helped organise the stop work order. 

‘We had a driver organised and they were going to go out to a number of sites in Newry Forest today (Friday, 1 September). Everyone is really upset because they have been locked out for a long time by Forestry with fences and cameras etc in place.’

Mr Oshlack told The Echo that Forestry appears to use a person named Mr Potter to sign off on their cultural heritage requirements. However, Mr Oshlack said they have been unable to find any Gumbaynggirr people who either know Mr Potter or who have been consulted about sacred and cultural sites in the area by Forestry NSW. 

‘We have been asking around to find out if anyone knows who Mr Potter is but we haven’t been able to find anyone who knows this person so far,’ Mr Oshlack said. 

‘I spoke to Gumbaynggirr people who have been looking for him and they said “We went to five different Gumbaynggirr families and no one has heard of him.” Not only have the Gumbaynggirr people and elders not been consulted, they are having their sites destroyed by the current operation and this has only been stopped by the Courts action.’

Mr Oshlack said that their barristers have been requesting that state Forestry provide documents but they have yet to be supplied. 

‘We have been seeking the reports on the koalas, ecology reports and environmental reports for eg soil, water, threatened species etc. The site is home to the endangered rare greater glider and we have experts who have said they are in this forest. However, Forestry are not providing any monitoring of their impact on this and other threatened species.’

‘We are hoping that Forestry NSW will facilitate the site inspections as sought by the court for the Gumbaynggirr people and their elders on Monday or Tuesday before they are back in court on Tuesday.’

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  1. Where are the laws to enforce compliance? Where is the transparency? Too often, in many parts of our “justice” system, truth & accountability, sadly, are just words.

    • Yer denied an opportunity to make a living by interfering do-gooders just like those poor old tobacco farmers, whalers, sealers, asbestos miners, financial advisors & battery hen farmers.
      Forestry is too destructive & the impacts too great to be exempted from proper & rigorous environmental impact assessment processes as they are at present.
      There are other ways to earn a living.

    • @Phil Mako
      The forest supported this mob, actually. Then people “earning” a living, decided to destroy it, without any consideration to impact or consequences to any other forms of life.

      Wonder how you’d feel if someone put a wrecking ball into your house and took all your wealth (everything you need to live).

      What’s rubbish, is your comment. State Forestry have actively been losing money for over 20 years, only through taxpayer concessions has the industry kept above water.

      So… To advocate and protect state forestry, is simply agreeing that you are happy with paying to destroy the homes of others.

    • @Phil Mako
      The forest supported this mob, actually. Then people “earning” a living, decided to destroy it, without any consideration to impact.

      Wonder how you’d feel if someone took a wrecking ball to your house and took away everything you needed to survive.

      What’s rubbish is your comment. State forestry have been losing money for over 20 years. Only through taxpayer concession has the industry kept it’s head above water. On top of that, the forests that have been cut already, would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in carbon credits today.

      So, to protect and advocate state forestry, is to agree that you are metaphorically happy with paying to destroy the homes of others.

  2. To Phil Mako: Your comments are racist and offensive. I’m not sure what the moderators are thinking. You are also ignorant. The money that the NSW govt paid to logging companies to log native forests last year could have paid out all logging contracts ‐ that’s how much money tax payers are losing on this immoral and often illegal undertaking.

  3. Robbing future generations of a decent environment for the sake of greasy politicians who siphon our taxes through companies that run at a loss, is not ‘making a living’.
    It’s corruption, stupidity & vandalism.

  4. Is it true that the Forestry Corporation costs millions of dollars per annum?
    Sure this Corporation needs to be investigated considering the damage to the environment caused by clear felling.
    Land Clearing has been proven to be a major contributor to the Climate Emergency.
    Uncontrollable wildfires, severe dry then extreme floods & Emperor Penguin Chicks dying due to the early melt of Sea Ice.
    How can our representatives continue to support Land Clearing & Habitat destruction with no economic benefit except to those who profit from trees.
    Time to make a stand our representatives a calling for a Voice yet here they seem to be silenced…

  5. Are any of you paying attention to the fact that after they clear these areas, they are spraying toxic, long-lasting herbicides, to prevent regrowth, to prevent fires, so the greenies don’t go after them for carbon emissions, which is actually what is stopping the practice from being sustainable, because the forest is unable to regrow. That’s what the desertification is actually about. But much as ignoring the fact that chemicals in paper straws damaging the environment more than plastic does, I don’t see any of you caring about that actual problem.

  6. We need logging. How will we build houses? Make paper? The Greenies want to ban plastic so the current alternative is paper – straws, bags, plates, etc. Plastic cutlery anyone? Nooooo. Only wooden products please. You can’t have it both ways. This is not a virgin forest but a regrowth forest. It has been logged and replanted in the past. There are plenty of national parks to preserve natural environments.

    • I think what they want is for third-worlders to chop all their trees down where the greenies can’t see it. They say ‘tree plantations’ but then want to prevent harvesting. The funny thing is, paper bags are impregnated with polymer to strengthen them. Wooden cutlery is held together with binder. Paper straws are full of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’. Their green alternatives are worse for the environment than the boring old PE plastic stuff that breaks down in sunlight.


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