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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Tough reaction to river redgum decision as mill announces pre emptive closure
Mood:  not sure
Topic: nsw govt


Picture: File picture of this long running saga as per ex premier named in the banner.


Earlier this week the front page of The Australian led with a confronting/compassionate speech by federal Agriculture minister Tony Burke along the lines that it would have been alot kinder to implement transition out of drought declared farms 7 years ago. He mentioned self harm by farmers in recent years despite being on Exception Circumstances subsidy and even after the drought had broken because they had exhausted their capital, reached the ceiling of EC benefits, and have no great prospects by the next drought or capacity to loan for current investment. Leading to self harm. A hard story to be sure.

Then we heard a 5 year 6,000 cubic metre per year deal for logging to continue until a national park is created in toto in the river red gums of NSW:

Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald ran this protest story:

 Rees's plan to save redgums faces the axe

BRIAN ROBINS March 3, 2010 

Chopping mad ...  environmentalists protesting against the decision raised a banner outside the Premier's office.

Chopping mad ... environmentalists protesting against the decision raised a banner outside the Premier's office. Photo: Nick Moir

The decision of the former premier Nathan Rees to immediately end logging of the Riverina redgums has been reversed by the state government.

It has opted for a five-year wind-down of logging, coupled with the establishment of national and regional parks that cover much of the contested area.

But getting the necessary legislation through Parliament is expected to be difficult, with the Coalition, Shooters and Greens parties all indicating opposition.

The state government said it would protect 107,000 hectares of Riverina redgums and set up an $80 million support package with logging to be wound down over the next five years.

Mr Rees proposed locking up the 42,000 hectares of the Millewa forest Riverina redgums in a national park, along with further unspecified areas along the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan rivers.

Environmental groups slammed the government for ''chopping the promised area in half''. The Greens want a total ban on logging while the Shooters are opposed to any halt to logging.

''This is clearly a deal with the Greens to win their preferences at next year's election,'' the Shooters MLC Robert Brown said of the government's proposal. ''We'll vote against it, as will the Nationals and Liberals, I suspect.''

The Greens MLC Ian Cohen said: ''Don't be surprised if I oppose it. It's a Labor-Nationals stitch-up. I am seriously unimpressed, and will be seeking advice. It's a pathetic compromise that leaves half of the magnificent Millewa Forest open for logging.''

The opposition also slammed the decision, saying that ''on face value, we'll be opposing'' the legislation because the government has ignored the local communities.

''The only reason that the redgums in the Barmah-Millewa area are in a reasonable condition is because they have been actively managed by the forestry industry for the past 150 years," the opposition spokeswoman on natural resources, Katrina Hodgkinson, said.

We also offered this analysis to southern forest groups:

Subject: redgum pr via Lake Cargelligo Re: [chipstop] Emailing: Riverina red gums get protection from logging - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

I was wondering what the expert analysis would be of the redgum outcome. Notice Premier Keneally's people did PR choreography for this rural regional logging policy story by announcing water pipeline for Lake Cargelico which ran radio and tv last night.

Home | NSW Premier1 Mar 2010 ... $19 million pipeline to secure town water supplies for Lake Cargelligo. Premier Kristina Keneally and Federal Minister for Climate Change

She foreshadowed this over a month ago and got praise from The Greens for this (fair enough)
This is surely her regime offsetting the backlash for literally any redgum forest protection by showing she cares for remote communities from Sydney - clever PR.

This cynical view of government choreography of regional rural stories seems to match with this expected reaction from local conservative authorities:

Riverina ABC reportage:
Red gum park decision 'miserable' 3 March 2010
Shires fear new parks to oust loggers 4 March 2010


How does that state government decision match up with the tough love of Minister Tony Burke we wondered, and with some chagrin: 6K cubic metres p.a. does seem quite low volumes compared to the east coast, but perhaps also quite high ecological effect for a generally dry environment with low growing rates?

Just now 9.30 am over the ABC radio 4 March 2010 we hear the next twist that 'a sawmill will close' in the Riverina having effectively decided to forego a 5 year logging future in the river redgums of the south west. So it seems Minister Burke's message of tough love has already had a further influence. 


Here is text of environment groups below another file picture in this long running saga (as per ex premier 3 previous named in the banner above):

[2nd March 2010]



Groups Unite to Condemn Red Gum Back Down


Seven environment groups from across two States condemned the decision made today by the NSW Government to back down on the protection of River Red Gum wetlands.  

"Despite yesterday’s rhetoric of new national park protection for Red Gum, the State Government has kept the best areas open to logging for five years” said Peter Cooper, Campaigner for The Wilderness Society Sydney.
“This is disastrous - these forests cannot sustain another five years of intensive logging damage."

"The Millewa forest, identified as an area significant enough for national park protection, will wait five years before it is protected.  This is an exceedingly generous outcome for the forestry industry but a very poor one for conservation," said Mr Cooper.

“This was the decision to judge Premier Keneally’s environmental credentials and she has clearly failed.  We are still to see any serious environmental outcomes in this term of Government and Premier Keneally has reversed the promises made for these forests.”

“Use of the NSW Environment Trust to continue logging is entirely inappropriate  – vast funds will be spent without delivering the environmental outcomes which were promised.”

The weakness of the NSW red gum decision compares starkly against a similar decision to protect River Red Gum forests made by the Victorian Government in Dec 2008,” said Jonathan La Nauze, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.

“When Victoria protected 91,000 hectares of Red Gum it was described by environment groups as ‘one of the most significant conservation decisions in the state’s history’.  The NSW decision today was described by the groups as an ‘empty shell’.”

“The Victorian Government delivered world class National Parks, including the full protection of the Barmah forest.  Yesterday the NSW Government delivered a compromised outcome on the other side of the Murray River, with the unprecedented step of opening up half the Millewa to logging for the next five years before making it national park.”

“The Victorian Government delivered a jobs positive outcome which saw a net increase in employment for the region.  The NSW Government has condemned the region to remaining stuck in the past by a protracted phase-out of industrial-scale logging and delaying the opportunity for new jobs creation”, said Mr La Nauze. 




Activists dump Red Gum firewood on Premier Keneally’s doorstep

The Wilderness Society Sydney Inc.
Media Release
25 February 2010

Activists from The Wilderness Society have today dumped a load of River Red Gum Firewood on the doorstep of Kristina Keneally’s Heffron office to highlight the destruction of the Murray River Red Gum Forests.

The firewood was accompanied by a banner reading “Kristina, your choice: River Red Gum National Parks or River Red Gum Firewood”. Today’s action launches a renewed campaign to communicate the need to protect the Murray River Red Gum Forests to the members of Ms Keneally’s electorate.

The Wilderness Society has become increasingly frustrated by the Premier’s lack of response to the December 2009 recommendations by the NSW Natural Resources Commission, which recommended the creation of over 100,000 hectares of new River Red Gum reserves.

A decision on creating new National Parks, as recommended, is currently before the Premier, from which the people of NSW will gauge her environmental credentials.

“Today’s action highlights the simple choice that Premier Keneally must make” said Peter Cooper, Campaigner for The Wilderness Society “She must chose between allowing the Murray River Red Gum Forests to be destroyed for firewood, or protecting them, as recommended by her own scientists”.

The NRC’s report confirmed the importance of the conservation values of these forests, as well as the environmental crisis the face – with up to 80% of trees stressed dead or dying in areas – and painted a damning picture of the impact of logging on the forests.





Will Keneally keep her Red Gum promise?




The Wilderness Society Sydney Inc.
Media Release
2 March 2010

The National Parks Association of NSW and the Wilderness Society Sydney have this morning unfurled a large banner outside the Premier’s office to urge her to deliver today on her promise for large new Red Gum National Parks.

A large banner reading ‘Stop logging the Murray River Red Gum forests’ was strung between the trees outside Governor Macquarie Tower in Sydney. A decision on the future of the forests is expected today.

“This will be a chance to rescue Labor’s abysmal environmental record and put the Premier on the map for the environment” said Belinda Fairbrother, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society.

“The NSW Government has not delivered any major conservation outcomes in this term and delivering on their green promises is crucial to their integrity with the electorate.”

Since 2007 Labor has overseen windbacks in planning laws, massive expansions in coal mining and a blanket approval to a car rally in World Heritage rainforests. Hunting and tourist developments in National Parks are still on the agenda.

“Premier Keneally must create new National Parks across the River Red Gum Forests, as promised, if she wants to be able to present any environmental credentials to the people of NSW” said Carmel Flint, Spokesperson for the National Parks Association of NSW.

“The NSW Government needs to implement the decision of the independent umpire – the Natural Resources Commission.  They mustn’t turn their back on the best technical advice.”

Environmentalists have expressed deep concern around the concept of ‘transitional parks’, where logging is phased out over a number of years.  Millewa forest, the centrepiece of the National Parks system promised last year, is at risk of becoming damaged goods through ‘phase-out’ logging.

“The environmental crisis facing these forests is extreme, with over 80% of trees stressed, dead or dying in some areas.

The forests simply won’t cope with a transitional period that allows logging to continue – logging must end now if there is to be anything left worth placing into National Park” concluded Ms Flint.

Posted by editor at 10:12 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 4 March 2010 10:49 AM EADT

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