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Polling shows record support for stronger nature protection laws

May 9, 2024 

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, has today released polling that shows overwhelming support for stronger nature protection laws in NSW.  

The results of this representative sample of over 1000 NSW voters show that habitat clearing and climate change are people’s top concerns, and that 83% of voters want stronger nature protection laws. 

This comes on the back of the NSW Government’s Biodiversity Outlook Report, released on Wednesday, which found that across nearly every indicator, NSW’s biodiversity is in decline. Shockingly, the report predicted that without drastic action half of NSW’s threatened species will be lost.  

“This polling proves that the overwhelming majority of people in NSW want more action taken to protect the places we love,” said Clancy Barnard, spokesperson for Nature Conservation Council NSW, today.  

“This government came to power promising to ‘stop runaway land clearing’ and ‘fix the biodiversity offset scheme’.  

“So far, they have failed to even close the Barilaro-era self-assessment loopholes everyone agrees are a key driver of habitat loss, let alone develop stronger protections that reflect the scale of the extinction and climate crises.   

Statements attributable to NCC Spokesperson Clancy Barnard 

“Changing these nonsense laws, that allow virtually unfettered habitat clearing on freehold land, should be a no-brainer for the government – the laws are currently unfit for purpose, and changing them has broad support. 

“Our existing laws are failing to protect nature or support landholders wishing to protect the important habitat on their property.  

“It also places an unreasonable expectation on landholders - to undertake complex ecological assessments that take trained ecologists days, even with the use of sophisticated technologies.  

“We are calling on Ministers Sharpe and Moriarty, along with Premier Chris Minns, to change these laws and provide support and resources for Local Land Services and the Environment Department to work with landholders to help identify and protect areas ecological significance.  

“Environment minister Penny Sharpe is saying the Minns government has ‘boosted environmental protections to their strongest level yet’. This may be true in relation to the Environmental Protection Authority's expanded powers – but it is certainly not the case for native vegetation legislation. They were strongest under the former Carr government – a NSW Labor legacy that Minns should be embracing.  

“The laws are demonstrably broken, and the voters want change: the stage is now set for Premier Minns to show the community if he is serious about saving Koalas and threatened species. Will he rise to the occasion?” 

“We are urging the NSW government to heed the advice of the experts saying these laws need fixing and steer us out of this biodiversity crisis.” 

Media note: Our polling of a representative sample of NSW residents found: 

  •  73% of people say yes to this question: Would you support the NSW Labor Government re-introducing protections against habitat clearing that were scrapped by the previous Government? 
  • Only 29% of people answered yes to the question: 'Do you think landholders can and should be trusted to self-assess the ecological value of their land, before clearing it?' 
  • Climate change and habitat clearing are the issues of highest concern for NSW residents  
  • 80% of those polled were concerned about habitat clearing, including 52% who are extremely or very concerned.  
  • More than nine in ten NSW residents want to see the state government doing more to protect and restore nature.  
  • Three-quarters of NSW residents feel that government – both state and federal – aren’t doing enough to address environmental issues, and most want to see greater protections for important habitats and ecosystems.  

The vast majority want better laws to protect nature:   

  • 83% want stronger laws to protect nature  
  • 87% are in favour of meeting 30x30 nature positive targets 
  • 52% oppose biodiversity offsets 
  • Eight in ten would support banning all development in ecologically important areas. 

Statement ends 

Media contact: Anna Greer 
E: [email protected] M: 0493 733 529 PH: (02) 7208 9482  

Note: NCC Spokesperson Clancy Barnard is available for comment on request 

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