7 November, 2016

Liberal MP latest to add voice to chorus of opposition to Premier Baird’s land-clearing laws

A Liberal backbencher has added his name to the growing list of people and organisations opposed to Premier Baird’s plans to weaken environmental protections and accelerate land clearing.

Coogee Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith contradicted the government’s authorised lines on the bills by stating in a letter to a constituent:

I am very concerned that these reforms could lead to further irreversible land degradation and endangerment of native wildlife habitat. [1]

He later reiterated his concerns in comments to the Sydney Morning Herald. Mr Notley-Smith’s statement followed the resignation last week of Professor Hugh Possingham, one of four authors of the 2014 report whose recommendations the government claims it is implementing. Prof. Possingham warned the government’s proposals would result in:

… hundreds of hectares of clearing which leads to the degradation of soil, water and biodiversity.

The erosion of support for the legislation is also coming from the sector the laws aimed to appease. More than 700 farmers and land managers released a statement in September stating:

The changes will lead to wide-scale land clearing and land management practices that have no place in modern farming.

 Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “As the bills come closer to entering parliament, the electoral and environmental risks of Mike Baird’s retrograde land-clearing policies are starting come into sharp focus for members of his own party,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“There is a growing realisation among Liberals that allowing a vocal minority of agribusinesses and the Nationals to dictate the government’s environmental policy will trash the Liberal Party’s environmental reputation among moderate, environmentally concerned voters in urban areas.

“The statements made by Coogee Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith reflect widely held concerns about the damage Mr Baird’s new land-clearing laws will do.

"He must understand that city people, as well as country people, have an interest in how our soils, water resources, bushland and wildlife are managed, and these voters are making their views known to their MPs.

“Mr Notley-Smith should be applauded for having the courage to speak the truth and to reflect the concerns of many thousands of people who oppose these changes.

"Mr Baird should scrap this flawed package and either fund Local Land Services to make the Native Vegetation Act work as intended, or go back to the drawing board and come up with another way to provide workable, strong protections for nature in NSW.”

[1] www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/cracks-appear-in-baird-governments-landclearing-plan-as-liberal-mp-breaks-rank-20161106-gsj0zf.html

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