Greens MP and Forest spokesperson, Dawn Walker MP has criticised the NSW Government for failing to support her Forestry Amendment Bill that would have restored the public’s ability to enforce breaches of forestry regulations.
“It’s appalling that the NSW Liberal-National Government have teamed up with the Shooters Party to oppose a bill that would have restored the rights of community members to take legal action when they observe reckless and devastating breaches of forestry laws by NSW Forestry Corporation and their contractors,” Ms Walker said.
“State-owned corporations should to be held to the same standard as everyone else, yet we know that Forestry Corporation continues to breach environmental laws and they are not being accountable by the under-resourced Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
“A culture of non-compliance and continuing evidence of breaches by Forestry Corporation make it clear that the current safeguards are not working. Laws are not being enforced and when they are breached, there is little or no consequence for Forestry Corporation.”
She said that community surveys consistently reported a number of breaches in Forest Corporation’s logging operations, including logging in exclusion zones, reckless damage of hollow-bearing and illegal logging around streams.
“Community members are frustrated as they see these environments on state land illegally logged, rules disregarded and they remain powerless to to do anything about it,” she said.
“The Government claims that the current enforcement arrangements provide rigorous protection of our public forests, but I’ve seen first-hand the damage being done.
“This Government has failed the community when it comes to guardianship of our public natural resources and it continues to fail them by refusing to adequately regulate Forestry Corporation.
“NSW is the only state that prohibits individuals and community groups from taking legal action in regards to native forestry operations. Denying the community a voice in ensuring forestry laws are upheld shows that this Government has no commitment to the environment or democracy.
“The Greens’ amendments the NSW Forestry Act through the Forestry Amendment (Public Enforcement Rights) Bill 2017 would have helped restore the public enforcement rights to our public native forests, but once again this Government has chosen to back loggers over the community and environment.”