In a recent media release, Luke Foley MLC, Shadow Minister for the Environment, stated that logging in NSW National Parks was "on the cards" after a NSW parliamentary budgets estimate hearing.
During the hearing the NSW Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker MP, refused to rule out logging in National Parks – an activity which is completely inappropriate in areas established for biodiversity conservation.
The current NSW Liberal-National Party Government has shown, in its 18 months in government, scant interest in protecting the environment.
Some months ago the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, announced the government would allow recreational hunting in 79 National Parks and Nature Reserves as part of a deal with the Shooters Party to secure their votes in the upper house for electricity privatisation.
Since then it has become apparent that the Shooters are expecting access to much more than the original 79 areas promised them. Furthermore, these hunters are expecting that the procedures for hunting in National Parks will follow the same lines as those governing recreational hunting in State Forests. This is a slack system which will not work in National Parks. Aside from the safety issues – for both human users of parks as well as the fauna that is supposed to be protected in these areas – there are a number of other issues. These include the "locking up" of parks so that hunters can enjoy their blood sport and unlikelihood that their culling of pest species will have any real impact on feral species numbers.
And then there's the Government's attitude to coal seam gas mining and its trumpeted measures – balanced measures according to the Minister for Planning - to "protect" the community and the environment from any problems caused by this industry. The simple fact is the Government is in thrall to this industry and is ignoring the long-term economic and environmental impacts it will have on the citizens of this state – long after the quick-quid miners have left with their spoils. All the vaunted protective measures are nothing but hollow spin.
Now, back to Robyn Parker's performance at the recent estimates hearing. Luke Foley claims that she has learnt nothing in the last twelve months. This is incorrect. Many months ago she roundly ridiculed someone who claimed the Government would allow recreational hunters into National Parks. She was proved wrong there. She has learnt from this and obviously does not want to be made to look a fool again in case the Premier, that champion of the natural environment, decides to allow logging in National Parks.