Saturday, 19 September 2020

ARE PROPERTY DEVELOPERS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PREVENTING THE EXTINCTION OF KOALAS ?

This was the question that the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed had for their State MP, Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence. 

Grafton Nannas and several supporters (and one very active Jack Russell pup) met outside Mr Gulaptis' electorate office in Prince Street, Grafton, on Thursday 17th September.  This gathering, the first for many months, occurred because the Nannas were appalled at the shenanagins of the NSW Nationals over the relatively new Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).  

 
Grafton Nannas outside the office of C Gulaptis MP

This knit-in was a completely new Nanna experience  as we were meeting according to COVID restrictions - limited numbers, social distancing and, for those who were able to wear masks, with face masks. All of this made communicating with each other rather challenging - particularly for those of us who are becoming hard of hearing.  And our increased volume  meant we were noisier than usual.


We presented  the office with a letter to Mr Gulaptis which explained our concerns about his position and that of his party.  The text of the letter is below:

 

State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 

Over the many years that we Nannas have been around, we have witnessed some weird performances from politicians but the NSW Nationals’ “drama” of last week really “takes the cake”.  The members of the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed are appalled at what you and your colleagues have done and are continuing to do.  

We are amazed to hear that you “love Koalas like every other Australian”. You’ve certainly got a very strange way of showing this recently-revealed affection. 

The Nannas are well aware that since 2012, when the Nationals came into government, they have been pressuring their coalition partners to weaken biodiversity protection.  This has resulted in significant weakening of both native vegetation legislation and State Forest logging regulations.  These changes have had serious impacts on biodiversity - including on koalas.

Koalas have suffered from a range of impacts in recent years including climate induced drought and bushfires as well as dog attack, car strike and disease.  But the major cause of their decline is habitat loss.  Your party, Mr Gulaptis, has had a big role in recent years in ensuring that habitat loss is accelerating.

So now we have you and your colleagues paying lip-service to the need to protect koalas while you are undermining a recent change to koala policy. 

And why are you doing this? It seems that all the hoo-ha is about property developers who are worried they might have difficulty is pursuing their plans for rural subdivisions or residential development on urban outskirts because they will need to put in development applications to councils.  This will then trigger the SEPP. 

Surprisingly the Nannas do not consider the desires of property developers to make what they would no doubt call “an honest quid”  should outweigh the protection of koalas which are on track to extinction in NSW by 2050 unless really effective measures are put in place to protect them and their habitat.

Are property developers more important than preventing the extinction of koalas?

 


 

 

 

 

 


Friday, 24 July 2020

SASSY NANNA FORCES COLLEAGUES TO VENTURE OUT

A week ago a few of the Grafton Nannas decided it was time to don the yellow and black and sally forth into the wider world while exercising social distancing and extreme care.

The major incentive for this break from home life was our sassy colleague, Nanna Kerry.  She had become increasingly restive.   She was sick of being in COVID isolation and had been loudly demanding an outing.  She was also very anxious to show her support for all those Nannas as well as the thousands in the west who are opposing Santos' plans for the Narrabri Gas Project which is now being considered by the  NSW Independent Planning Commission as the final part of the approval process.


 So we visited a small park by the river overlooking Susan Island. Nanna Kerry was delighted to be in the fresh air - and she loves the Clarence River.  She wasn't too happy about the face mask but she reluctantly agreed to being a good example to Nannas and others during this health crisis. And she loved Lynette's "I stand for the Pilliga" face frame.

Five masked Nannas & Steve's dog, Tilly



Wednesday, 8 July 2020

NARRABRI GAS PROJECT FINAL ASSESSMENT DUE IN AUGUST


Whether a massive coal seam gas (CSG) project in the north-west of the state receives final NSW government approval will be known in August.

Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project, the first stage of which involves drilling 850 gas wells south west of Narrabri through the Pilliga Forest and farmland, has been referred for a final assessment to the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC).  The IPC panel will be conducting a public hearing from July 20 – 24 as well as receiving written submissions.

More than 23,000 submissions were received by the Department of Planning when the EIS for this controversial project went on public exhibition in the first half of 2017.  Given the continuing  concern about the project,  there are likely to be many submissions to the panel in the next few weeks.

Why is there concern about a project that both the federal and state governments are so keen to see approved?  There are many issues of concern – two of which are discussed briefly below.

A major concern for many of the region’s farmers is the impact the development will have on water– both in relation to local aquifers and also the re-charge zone of the Great Artesian Basin.  The CSG industry uses significant volumes of water in its operation and also produces large amounts of saline water which will need to be disposed of safely.  Opponents of the development are well aware of the major problems relating to CSG mining and water in the US and also in Queensland.

Another major concern is the impact of this massive development on the high conservation value Pilliga Forest, the largest temperate woodland in NSW. There will be significant clearing for roads, pipeline routes, well surrounds and ponds for produced water.  This fragmentation of natural habitat will create problems for many local fauna species - including threatened species such as Black-striped Wallabies, Koalas and Eastern Pygmy-possums. 

The IPC panel’s determination will be of great interest to many people in the immediate area of Santos’ development but also further afield - including here in the Northern Rivers.

Friday, 22 November 2019

NANNA KERRY'S DOWNRIVER TRIP

As a former Queensland Nanna, Nanna Kerry enjoys travel in NSW and is contantly clamouring to be out and touring to new places.  So, several weeks ago two of the Nannas from the Grafton Loop decided it was time she was given a chance to check out some areas downriver of Grafton.


Nanna K enjoying the breeze and scenery on the riverbank at Ulmarra
The first stop was Ulmarra where Nannas Dianne and Leonie had coffee at the hotel  while Nanna Kerry inspected the river bank and was introduced to some of the resident water dragons.  She found these creatures very alarming and was relieved that none of them came too close.

Too weird and intimidating for Nanna Kerry!

Before leaving Ulmarra they visited two other local shops.  The first was the second hand bookshop. There Nanna Kerry was astounded at the thousands of books on display and the range of subjects.


The second was an artist's shop where she was delighted to meet a very interesting fellow who was dressed for the Jacaranda Festival.  She found Jacaranda Jack quite charming and hopes to catch up with him again soon.


The Nannas then headed for Yamba where Nanna K checked out one of the beaches.  She wanted to sunbake on the rocks but soon found it to to be very uncomfortable as well as very hot.  Nanna Dianne then had to help her back to the car and turn on the air-conditioning to revive her.

It had been a long day for Nanna Kerry and, as she was not used to such exertions, the Grafton Nannas realised it was time to take her home.  But, along the way they called in at Maclean where she enjoyed surveying the river and waving to a yachtie moored nearby.

Nanna Kerry found the day very tiring but so did Nannas Dianne and Leonie.  Moving Nanna K around is sometimes challenging - particularly up and down stairs and on uneven ground.


But travelling with Nanna K will be much easier in future now that she has wheels.



Saturday, 28 September 2019

FORESTS AND NATIONAL PARKS CONCERNS OF GRAFTON NANNAS

This blogging Nanna has had so many stitches on her bamboo needles in recent months that she has been very slack in doing important things like posting on this blog.  So there's some catching up to do!!


Nanna Kerry protesting outside Chris Gulaptis' office


LETTER TO  CHRIS GULAPTIS MEMBER FOR CLARENCE

 The letter below was presented to our local state MP at a knit-in on August 27th.

*  *  *  *  * 

Dear Mr Gulaptis
Protected Forest and Murray River National Park Concerns

The members of the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed are very concerned about the push to log important forest areas in this state.

1. Logging Protected Areas of State Forests

Over a year ago, on 31st May 2018, we wrote to you about the management of our State Forests and the proposed new logging rules which would see much more intensive logging and increased mortality for native wildlife as their habitat was destroyed.  Unsurprisingly the Government did not listen to the concerns of community members and scientists about the folly of its plans.

Now we see the Government is planning to allow logging in more than 15,000 ha of protected old-growth and high-conservation-value public forests.

The Nannas remind you again that the State Forests of NSW belong to the people of this state - not to the timber industry or to a Government that appears hell-bent on damaging as much of the natural environment as it can while it is in office.

We also point out that these forests store huge amounts of carbon - something the government should be aiming to keep stored as part of a comprehensive policy of climate change action.  (It is, of course, astonishing that the Government does not have a comprehensive or effective climate policy.)

In addition these forests provide crucial habitat  for many threatened species including koalas, owls and quolls.

2. Push by the National Party to Log Murray River NP

The Nannas are appalled that your party is pushing to allow logging in the Murray River NP.  If Mr Barilaro and your Nationals colleagues are so concerned about jobs in that area - and in other regional areas - it's way past time that they spent some time investigating sustainable jobs rather than harking back to the destructive days of  the past.

In conclusion, Mr Gulaptis, the Nannas have two questions for you based on the concerns expressed in this letter:
  • What plans do you and the National Party have for the creation of sustainable jobs in the regions - including our own.
  • What are the Government's plans in relation to effective action on climate change?

Nanna Dorothy ready to deliver our letter



NOTE The Grafton Nannas are still waiting for a response to our letter from our MP (28-9-19)

Thursday, 11 April 2019

GRAFTON NANNAS OBJECT TO STATE GOVERNMENT'S DISSOLVING OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE




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.
For example:
·         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