Comments made against a regional environment group have resulted in Minister Peter Walsh stepping back and making a public apology today. The apology to Environment East Gippsland was today published on his parliamentary website and the regional newspaper where it was originally printed.
The Minister’s media comments in October last year stated that EEG “…continue(s) to attack Victoria’s responsible and sustainable native forest industry, often wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars”. In today’s apology, he retracted those statements.
“In fact what EEG has done is successfully take three legal actions against VicForests and DEPI for their refusal to adhere to state environmental legislation”, said Jill Redwood, Coordinator of the group.
“If VicForests and the government department would simply behave themselves, small community groups would not be forced to sue them for being environmentally recklessness”.
“Minister Walsh said that a ‘major factor’ in the recent serious financial losses of VicForests, was due to our group taking action against them” said Ms Redwood. “The statements suggested that it was us who wasted tax payers dollars, not VicForests or DEPI, that we have no respect for the court system, that we have ulterior motives besides protecting the environment.”
It’s been estimated that bills of up to $200,000 for this and a previous case against Peter Walsh for defaming another environment group will come out of the tax-payers pockets rather than the Minister’s pocket.
“Minister Walsh has more hide than Blarney’s bull to accuse a one-desk environment group in East Gippsland of being a ‘major factor’ for recent VicForests losses. VicForests logs public forests for free yet has made losses in eight years out of 10. Minister Walsh’s ‘mouth without restraint’ seems to match his ‘industry without restraint’.