The National Parks Association of NSW has called for the resignation of the NSW Environment Minister, Ms Gabielle Upton, for failing to adequately fund national parks, including Brisbane Water and Bouddi.
“Minister Upton must resign after abject failure to fund environment protection through economic windfall,” said the association’s CEO, Mr Kevin Evans.
He said the NSW Government’s budget had provided no new funding for the environment.
“This government is presiding over a once-in-a-generation glut driven by asset sales and stamp duty revenue from Sydney’s booming housing market,” Mr Evans said.
“We’re asking for a billion dollar investment, on top of the climate change fund, into nature protection, in recognition of the fact that the sale of public assets must be translated into a natural legacy for the NSW community.”
Mr Evans said that state-wide billion dollar investment would translate into the better management of individual parks, such as Brisbane Water and Bouddi.
“The budget was extraordinary, the media called it the envy of the developed world, and that means we needed to take that opportunity to see a significant investment in the health of the environment,” he said.
“Nature in NSW, in areas like the Central Coast, is a driver for regional tourism, both domestic and international, and we have under-invested in those national parks, even though they are the main reason tourists visit.
“We are a voluntary organisation that runs the biggest bush walking program in the southern hemisphere, so our people are out in the national parks often enough to know that our paths, our tracks and signage are in a poor state.
“It is about nature conservation and about giving visitors a high-quality experience, and our members see the depressing lack of maintenance that results in tracks being closed and access to full enjoyment of the parks denied.”
Mr Evans said that he appreciated that there were Aboriginal sites and artefacts in need of protection in both the Brisbane Water and Bouddi parks.
“We strongly believe local Aboriginal communities need to be involved in such conservation.
“It is always difficult to budget for all eventualities, but we want the budget to at least bring parks up to a standard where management is good, and then we can properly protect the Aboriginal heritage,” he said.
He said the NSW Government’s repeal of the Native Vegetation Act, and the now unstoppable introduction of the Biodiversity Act, would both make it easier for private landowners to clear vegetation, further jeopardising habitat.
“We will need to reflect in 2055, when we say goodbye to the last koala outside a zoo in NSW, whether the decisions being made now contributed to the fact my children will not be able to see a koala anywhere in the wild in NSW,” he said.
“Minister Upton and Treasurer Perrottet triumphantly announced a miserly $800,000 from the budget to fit radio collars on koalas.
“That’s little more than an expensive insult.
“The public deserve better.
“These dark days of Coalition governments abandoning the environment must give way to bi-partisan recognition that we cannot have a successful economy without a healthy environment.
“NSW has fallen well behind in achieving its international commitments to biodiversity protection.
As a signatory to the International Convention on Biological Diversity, NSW has voluntarily committed to protect, by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas.
“Minister Upton must resign and make way for someone in the Coalition, and there must be someone, who cares about the environment, to turn the ship around.”
Media release, Jun 20
Kiran Charles, National Parks Association NSW
Interview, Jun 21
Kevin Evans, National Parks Association NSW
Jackie Pearson, Journalist