The dramatic eleventh-hour resignation by Professor Hugh Possingham, Australia’s most recognised scientist, has stripped away any pretence of scientific credibility and exposed Mike Baird’s land clearing legislation for what it is: a cash grab by big business and developers.
The primary objections of Professor Possingham are that the government is proposing self-assessable codes that will result in broad-scale land clearing, thus degrading soil, water and biodiversity, and that the ‘no net loss’ standard against which clearing should be measured has not made the draft legislation.
The Professor states that the Baird government has included elements that are not consistent with the original recommendations made by the review panel—thereby breaking the promise to adopt the recommendations.
National Parks Association of NSW CEO, Kevin Evans, said: “as recently as the 20th October, Primary Industry Minister Niall Blair was busily spruiking the scientific credentials of the Bairdgovernmentsnew land clearing laws in the NSW Parliament.
“Minister Blair said ‘this Government has a plan to include a scientific response to make sure that farmers in this State are part of the solution’ and referred to ‘the science that we have brought forward to address that issue’ (the issue being biodiversity decline).
Of course, the Minister made these claims despite respected scientific organisations such as the Royal Zoological Society of NSW and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists having condemned the proposed laws on scientific grounds.
“Yet despite the weight of scientific expertise opposed to thelegislationthe Baird Government has pressed on regardless.
“Ateveryopportunitytheyhave tried to suggest that the $240 million investment in private land funding would be a magic wand to overcome any increase in clearing that may occur.
“The Wentworth Group have previously labelled this money as a subsidy for land clearing. Professor Possingham’s statements confirm that view.
“Professor Possingham has just given Mike Baird another National Party-induced headache to go with the many he’s had to cope with recently.
“The land clearing codes are nearly identical to those in Queensland and we know what happened there. Land clearing on an epic scale. We also know that this is being driven by radical elements in the National Party that are bossing Mike Baird around on several fronts.
“For the wider publicity can’t be made much clearer that the new laws have nothing to do with nature conservation and everything to do with opening up land clearing for big agribusiness and developers.”