Wednesday 29 October 2014


 ‘Who took conservatives out of conservation?’ is a headline in the latest issue of Habitat Australia, the magazine published by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

It’s a question that’s close to the ACF’s heart. This organisation was established in the mid-1960s at the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh with a grant from the Menzies Government and with Sir Garfield Barwick (Chief Justice of the High Court and previously a minister under Menzies) as president — it was conservative to the core.

The Abbott-Truss Government’s hostility to the environment has been surprising in its breadth. Their targets haven’t just been the carbon tax, renewable energy and curbing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, but also the Tasmanian Wilderness and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage areas, the network of Commonwealth marine reserves, the National Water Commission and the ‘green tape’ of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

It wasn’t always so with Coalition governments.

The EPBC Act was drafted and passed by the Howard Government. Howard proposed the national representative system of marine protected areas in 1998 and set up the National Water Commission in 2004.

The Tasmanian Wilderness and Great Barrier Reef were nominated for World Heritage listing by the Fraser Government, which also ended sand mining on Fraser Island and whale hunting in Australian waters.

At the state level, the original and current National Parks and Wildlife Acts were passed by the Askin Government in NSW which, in 1970, also brought in the Clean Waters Act and the Pollution Control Act.

Nick Greiner brought in the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 which set up the legislative framework for ecologically sustainable development (including the precautionary principle) and replaced Askin’s State Pollution Control Commission with the Environmental Protection Authority.

Care for the environment — and willingness to introduce laws and regulations to protect it — has never been the exclusive territory of left-leaning governments. It is puzzling why the current crop of Liberal-National governments is now disowning and dismantling the legacy of their conservative forebears.

-          J Cavanaugh

Monday 27 October 2014


With the State Election due in March next year, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers wants to put more pressure on all state politicians to ensure that the Northern Rivers is kept gasfield free. The November 1st Lismore Rally is an important part of this campaign.  Below is an abridged version of an email from Gasfield Free Northern Rivers.

Whilst Bentley was a great win, our region is still NOT SAFE from invasive gas mining! Active licenses still cover most of the Northern Rivers and Metgasco plans to start drilling as soon as they can if the current suspension at Bentley is lifted!

With a state election looming NOW is the time to remind our politicians that we are determined to keep our region GASFIELD FREE by keeping this issue on everyone’s agenda.
Will you help us make the BIG RALLY in Lismore on November 1st one of the most powerful events in our region’s history?
On November 1st the communities of the Northern Rivers will be taking the momentous step of declaring our whole region GASFIELD FREE! We will also be calling on the NSW Government to take decisive action to support our declaration by CANCELLING all the gas licences that cover our region.
Here’s how you can join us in making the November 1st rally a truly momentous event and help to make gasfields history in the Northern Rivers:

-Show up at 10am at Riverside Park, Lismore on Nov. 1st for the march, rally and declaration

-Pledge to bring FIVE of your family, friends or work colleagues on the day

-Spread the word
The movement for a Gasfield Free Northern Rivers has grown from strength to strength in the last four years because people like you care enough to take action.

Let’s keep building the momentum for decisive action from government by making the rally an event our politicians can’t ignore!


Sunday 5 October 2014


 In 2013 the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC), local provider of the national Land for Wildlife program, initiated what has become known as the Emu Gully re-vegetation project. In partnership with a private landowner near Pillar Valley, the previously cleared, mown gully has now been landscaped and planted by volunteers, creating a corridor containing specific feed species for our embattled Coastal Emus as well as other wildlife.

Nine months later shrubs and young trees, helped by recent rains, are well over head height, and  significantly the landowners have recently reported seeing an emu with 5 chicks. Amid speculation that Emu numbers have fallen to well below the previous estimate of 100 birds, this is great news indeed.

However the CEC is not getting too excited about the chicks at this stage. As Emus lay upwards of 15 eggs there should be an expectation of at least 10 chicks surviving, but wild dogs, cats, foxes and feral pigs are having a negative impact on their survival, and ultimately on the survival of the Coastal Emu.

A further positive note is that, with land-use changes in the Pillar Valley in the past 30 years, Koalas might potentially be reintroduced, or naturally disperse back to the area. In 2012 the CEC identified fresh Koala scats and scratches throughout the Sandy Crossing travelling stock route, near Wants Lane, and botanic surveys have since revealed considerable tracts of suitable habitat over many  properties in the area.

Now, with some help by the National Parks & Wildlife Foundation under the Private Land Conservation Grants program, CEC's Land for Wildlife assessor, Peter Turland, has embarked on two other local projects. One, dubbed Koala Gully, again undertaken largely by the landowners, is focused on re-establishing a forested corridor with koalas' preferred feed trees, particularly Forest Red Gum, Grey Gum and Tallowwoods.

The third project, probably the most ambitious, is aimed at restoring a 2 hectare site with Subtropical Coastal Floodplain Forest, along river flats adjoining Chaffin Creek that were previously cleared for agriculture.

Well done Land for Wildlife, and well done Pete.

- Patricia Edwards 

This post was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on Monday 22    September, 2014.