The Government's announcement of 18,000 ha addition to the state’s conservation network a drop in the ocean amidst their overwhelming attacks on National Parks, according to Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen and the NSW Opposition.
The addition represents just 0.25 per cent of the national parks estate of 7,142,675 ha, which includes everything from nature reserves to national parks.
While any addition is welcome it must be seen against a backdrop of NSW environmental protection being consistently undermined for the past seven years.
The Berejiklian Government has ripped up land clearing laws and cut $121 million out of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). NPWS staff have been reduced drastically, with 26 per cent of permanent rangers cut and 35 per cent of area managers gone since 2011.
Sadly, today’s announcement also coincides with 14 more plants and animals from NSW added to the national threatened species list or having their threatened status deteriorate further. Under the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s watch, there are now more than 1,000 threatened animal and plant species in NSW.
In seven years, the Government has added just 64,905 ha to the conservation network, compared to Labor’s 3,050,000 ha in its previous period in office – at that rate it would take the Government around 330 years to match Labor’s record of expanding and enhancing the reserves estate.
Finally, to correct the Minister: the NSW parks and reserves estate reached a size larger than Tasmania (6.8 million ha) eight years ago under the previous Labor Government.
Quotes attributable to Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen MP
“The Berejiklian Government’s attacks on our National Parks stand in stark contrast to the work of NSW Labor Governments: we built them up, and this Government is tearing them down.
"Nature conservation is vital to protecting our planet, but this Government couldn't care less: From ripping up land clearing laws to gutting the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Berejiklian Government aren’t just ignoring the threat of excessive land clearing but are actively encouraging it.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe MLC
“Under this government, any rare additions to the conservation network are welcome, but this truly represents a drop in the ocean compared with the crimes committed against the environment by this administration over the past seven years.
"This Environment Minister is the same person who signed on to new land clearing laws even after being warned by her own department that the laws would allow 99 per cent of koala habitat to be cleared in NSW.
"I wish I could be more positive about the Government’s intentions, but their record speaks for itself: almost nothing added to the conservation network over seven years, disgraceful cuts to the rangers and staff who look after our national parks, and land clearing laws that have opened up the state to bulldozers.”