During a recent knit-in outside the office of the State Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, the Grafton Nannas delivered a letter to the MP about their concerns about the NSW Government's changes to the status of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) following the recent state election.
The text of the letter is printed below:
Dissolving of Office of Environment and Heritage
The Grafton Nannas are very concerned about your Government’s recently announced intention of doing away with the Office of Environment and Heritage as an independent entity.
We have long been worried about the Government’s lack of concern about protecting the natural environment for current and future generations of humans as well as for other life forms.
Government policies over recent years have been seen by many in our community and elsewhere as being a de facto war on the natural environment.
· Changes to vegetation laws which have led to a large increase in clearing of habitat which is important to the survival of native flora and fauna. This weakening of the former laws is also likely to lead to increased topsoil loss and general land degradation.
· Changes to logging regulations which threaten the sustainability of native forests which belong to the people of NSW – and not to logging interests. These changes include limiting pre-logging fauna surveys, an inevitable increase in clear-felling, and reduction in the width of buffer zones along streams.
· Failure to protect the health of rivers, particularly those in the Murray-Darling Basin. For years the NSW Government, as well as the Federal Government, has been pandering to the irrigation industry while ignoring the need to protect river health by ensuring that flows are adequate for river health. The drought is not an excuse for this folly.
· Other examples include the cutting of funding to the National Parks & Wildlife Service and penny-pinching changes to its structure as well as the failure to ensure that the existing weak environment laws are enforced and appropriate penalties imposed on those who breach them.
We are aware that the Premier recently stated that her Government would make the environment a priority.
Since hearing that OEH was to lose any of the limited independence it currently has and is to be pushed into a mega-Planning Department, we are left wondering about what the premier actually meant about “priority”. Did she mean that she intended to make it a priority to finish off effective protection of the natural environment – something started years ago under the Coalition State Government? It looks very much like that to the Nannas.
|Nannas deliver the letter to Member for Clarence|