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Pressure mounts on NSW Labor to side with democracy and protect the Australian Bush

17th August 2023  

With the Federal Labor national conference today endorsing a watered-down version of the Labor Environmental Action Network (LEAN) motion to “move to 100% plantation timber and end broadscale land clearing”, pressure is rising on the NSW Government to take immediate action.  

The motion that passed today contains key reforms, including:  

“Labor is committed to delivering the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on forests and land use which commits Australia to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030” 

“Labor will work with states and territories to update the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement to ensure it is contemporary and fit for purpose, [including] the application of National Environmental Standards to Australia’s native forests.” 

The Majority of NSW Labor branches (160/estimated 250) including every branch from areas where native forest logging takes place, endorsed the LEAN plan that would dramatically reduce emissions, end runaway land clearing and protect native forests.  

“The motion will now require the federal government to work with each State and Territory to stop the reckless destruction that has seen Eastern Australia named as one of the 24 global deforestation hotspots - making us the only developed nation on the list”  NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford said today.   

It’s great to see that the vast majority of NSW Labor branches recognise that this is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to reduce Australia's emissions and protect our environment”. 

“This will have a particular impact on NSW, where the 2016 biodiversity management and conservation laws saw a tripling in the rate of land clearing. Land clearing is the greatest threat to biodiversity in NSW (and Australia), with 95,000 ha of land and 50 million trees being cleared every year in NSW alone.” 

“Land clearing is responsible for 10% of Australia's C02 Emissions (40 million tonnes per year), equivalent to the emissions produced by every household in Sydney. Native forest logging accounts for another 9 million tonnes, equivalent to the emission from all cars in Australia for 3 ½ years.” 

“Australians do not support the runaway land clearing and native forest logging that has been allowed to flourish under coalition governments. Research conducted by the Biodiversity Council found ‘81% of Australians support tougher fines and stronger laws to stop illegal tree clearing and forest habitat destruction’” Mumford continued.  

Polling released today by the Australian Institute also found that the vast majority of Australian voters want bans on native forest logging extended to New South Wales and Tasmania. 

“It’s absurd that amidst both a climate crisis and biodiversity crisis, native forests are being turned into woodchips, and massive commercial agribusiness operators can simply tick a box and decide that there is nothing of environmental significance in an area they want to clear.” Mumford also said.  

Three more reasons runaway land clearing needs to stop - All attributable to Jacqui Mumford 

1 - It increases bushfire risk:   

By drying out forests and leaving dead debris on the ground, land clearing and native forest logging dramatically increase both the risk and severity of bushfires.   

“As we enter a period of drought, compounded by changes to the climate, governments are placing communities at further bushfire risk by continuing to allow these destructive practises" 

2 - It is bad for the economy:  

In the last two years the hardwood division of Forestry Corp ran at a loss to the tune of $29m. Ending native forest logging in 2023–24 and funding a transition package for workers would deliver a net profit of $45 million.  

Agriculture exports to the European Union are likely to be banned if we continue to allow a small segment of corporate agribusinesses to clear fell land as part of their farming practices.  

3 - It is responsible for an absurd amount of carbon emissions.

Land clearing generated 40 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2022. That’s 10% of Australia’s total CO2 emissions or the equivalent of over 2 million Australian (1 in five) Australian households.  

Native Forest logging is responsible for another 9 million tonnes of Carbon emissions per year. That’s equivalent to the emission from all cars in Australia for 3 ½ years 

3.6 million tonnes of carbon are emitted from native forest logging in NSW alone, the equivalent to that produced by 840,000 internal combustion cars.   

The majority of Labor members and the majority of Australians support this reform.  

“It would save the taxpayer millions of dollars, dramatically reduce the risk of severe bushfires, and ensure Australia can continue to trade with the European Union. What more evidence do you need that now is the time to protect what is left of the Australian bush?”  

Statement ends 

Media contact: Clancy Barnard 

E: [email protected]  Ph: 0438 869 332 

Note: NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford is available for comment on request  

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