The largest destroyer of our endangered forest species could be made exempt from the law that protects them!
Victoria’s Baillieu led National Party government plans to rewrite the environmental Code for logging so that the DSE Secretary can flick his pen over a piece of paper to exempt logging from abiding by the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFGA).
This is as a direct result of our Brown Mountain Supreme Court wins (September 2010). As predicted back then, rather than honour the law, they are altering it.
At that time, Mary Wooldridge, the shadow spokesperson for the Environment stood on the steps of Parliament House and told the public that her party, if elected, would honour the court ruling. So what’s happened?
To assist the Secretary to make ‘informed decisions’, the government will undertake a series of surveys inside National Parks. If they find these forests are just teeming with endangered Potoroos, gliders, owls and quolls, the secretary will give the nod to obliterate the same type of rich habitat outside the parks.
Baillieu’s media machine said they were going to ‘balance’ the protection of the logging industry with the protection of endangered wildlife!
Here are some cracker quotes from the ex-logger and now Parliamentary Secretary for logging in State Parliament, Gary Blackwood:
“…it’s not about opening up more areas but using those areas we have at our disposal in a better way…”
“… it’s about perhaps providing an opportunity to take a bit of pressure off that production forest because of the threat of a threatened species being deemed threatened …”
“Look – the demand for timber is growing there’s no doubt about that.”
For more detail see ‘Australia’s forestry crisis’ story here
“…it’s far more responsible for us to harvest our (forests) in a responsible and sustainable way in consideration of all the values we need to protect, than to import timber from Third World countries that don’t have any forest management practices, or worse still, where the timber is actually stolen.”
In reply to the above story that made page 5 of the Age on 3 November 2011, a barrage of letters hit the editor’s desk. Here’s a sample…
Let’s not be the generation that oversaw the demise of so much more of our native wildlife, to temporarily sustain an industry in its death throes. These creatures need more protection. Please take a deep breath, Mr Baillieu, think again and do the right thing.
Dave Archer, Frankston
THE Department of Sudden Extinctions (DSE) has been handed the pen of god … Empowering the DSE to selectively cull threatened species is unethical at best. As for our state’s faunal emblem, let’s hope Melbourne Zoo can reserve a room for the last Leadbeater’s possum – they don’t take up much space.
Sarah Rees, MyEnvironment, Healesville
This assault on native forests is environmental terrorism at its finest and appears to be a case of “if you can’t beat the law, change it”. An outrageous use of Parliament.
Michael Bond, Richmond
WHEN I was a kid facing defeat in a contest on home territory, it was considered unacceptable and morally wrong to simply change the rules to get your own way. Now we see the Baillieu government doing exactly that in response to … the Supreme Court (banning) VicForests from logging old-growth forests at Brown Mountain … the government is guilty of the unacceptable and immoral behaviour of changing the rules when the outcome is unpalatable. Shame.
Andrew Parsons, Ringwood East
Logging native forests has continually lost the state money, so all this proposal is doing is attempting to make VicForests a little less unprofitable than it already is… If the Liberal government truly lived up to its economic ideology, and didn’t let the Nationals run the show, it would stop subsidising an increasingly unprofitable, government-driven native forest industry, and let the competitive advantages of plantations be realised by private industry.
Samuel Moore, Hawthorn
The Greens forests spokesperson Lee Rhiannon, made a media statement that the Federal Government needs to step in to protect our endangered wildlife. But the Federal EPBC Act, which covers nationally listed endangered wildlife like the Potoroo, Quoll and rare forest owls, stepped back where a Regional Forest Agreement existed. This was at a time when the RFAs promised to carry out surveys and assess the impacts of logging. It promised to work out a set of sustainability criteria and to carry out reviews– all of which have been tossed out the door. Now that the protection of wildlife from logging annihilation is being whittled down to absurd claims such as balance and ‘whole of landscape’ assessments, the Feds should step in.
WHAT WE CAN ALL DO:
Environment East Gippsland has asked the ALP Shadow Minister for the Environment Lisa Neville, to speak out against this and promise her party will revoke this outrageous change to the law/code if they are returned.
- If anyone lives in or knows friends in her Bellarine seat, please contact her. She holds the fourth most marginal seat in Victoria. firstname.lastname@example.org She replied to us that she’s looking at the plan and might make a statement in Parliament in a couple of weeks (it’ll be a stone cold issue by then!) and will consider this in the lead up to the next election. (?!)
- Or/and, send your sentiments to the Libs/Nats if you’re a conservative voter (or even if you’re not). It’s time we all became very serious about these attacks on our environment. Please target your Coalition MPs in those marginal seats as well.
- As part of any change to the Code of Forest Practices (loggers rule book), the public have to be invited to comment. I know we all feel extremely disgusted by this proposal. We might be pissing in the wind as they say, but hey – why not vent some outrage. We need to seriously rally over the coming months to get a LOT of submissions slamming the proposed changes. Please alert your networks to write a letter on this extinction plan opposing the changes to the Code and demanding more protection in state forests, not less. We have until Feb 1st but please ensure you give plenty of time – in fact why not ping off your response today. Send to – Forestry.Code@nulldse.vic.gov.au. Please send us a copy as well.