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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 00:01

Wrap-up of NSW State Election

The NSW Government election demonstrated the high level of concern about coal mining and coal seam gas. Several seats affected by mining and coal seam gas had strong swings away from the Liberals and National Party. Ballina, Wyong and Campbelltown were lost to the Greens or Labor.

Prior to the election Premier Mike Baird responded by cancelling 12 coal seam gas exploration licenses. However ongoing operations in the Pilliga, Gloucester Valley and Camden have not been proven to be safe for local communities and agriculture.

Marine sanctuaries had been compromised when the shore fishing restrictions were placed on hold by the government while an expert panel reviewed the social values and risks to marine life of recreational fishing. In December two-thirds of the sanctuaries were restored. The other third have been rezoned as habitat protection zones, meaning that beach and rock platform fishing will be permitted.

The government has promised to protect Sydney Harbour’s marine life but no details have been provided. Labor is supporting a marine park.

There is a long way to go to protect our threatened species. The government pledged $100 million to the Saving Our Species program that was launched in December 2013. The funding would be spent over four years and, the government says, would be used to fund programs to protect all 970 native species from pests with measures such as fencing and improved soil quality.

The government's ‘saving our species’ approach divides animals into streams according to the likelihood they can be saved successfully and the cost and benefit to society of protection. The very low funding previously provided ($5 million) could only cover protection for 70 species. Critics said that this approach was prioritising iconic species such as the koala.

This good work could all be undone if they follow through on their announcement to simplify the biodiversity legislation by repealing the Native Vegetation Act and replace it with a new law.

The appalling 10/50 bushfire prone vegetation clearing legislation is still wreaking havoc in our beautiful tree-lined streets with large habitat trees being removed for non-bushfire protection reasons. The reported count is now more than 1200 trees converted to mulch in northern Sydney. We hope the public inquiry will lead to the return of a scientific basis for assessment.

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