Revelations that Federal Senator Anne Ruston wrote to the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) questioning our integrity during the recent Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) consultation process should concern anyone who takes seriously the importance of community input to policy.
Instead of considering feedback from environment groups and their supporters to improve the environmental performance of logging, Senator Ruston instead dismissed concerns and recommitted to new RFAs.
The Senator’s actions highlight that the current RFA process is not community consultation, it’s box-ticking for a pre-determined outcome.
Senator Ruston’s extraordinary intervention saw NPA accused of deliberately misleading the Australian public on the performance of the RFAs.
It’s an accusation that NPA rejects completely. In fact it is Senator Ruston who failed to provide evidence to back up the assertions in her letter, instead repeating industry assertions that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
NPA CEO, Alix Goodwin, said: “As a non-government environment charity, whose financial support comes from members and donors, honesty, integrity and trust are our core values.
“In order to foster trust, we pride ourselves on evidence-based advocacy. And that trust is why we’re proudly celebrating our 60th year of protecting the biodiversity of NSW.
“The submission that so annoyed Senator Ruston was based on a review of RFAs that we presented to Senator Ruston’s office in April 2016. We received no feedback that day that any of the content was misleading or dishonest, nor have we since then.
“We can only assume that the Senator’s letter was triggered by our efforts to drive submissions from the wider community on a matter of public importance; the RFAs cover 2 million hectares of public land in NSW.
“We wrote a detailed, fully referenced, response to Senator Ruston and asked her to withdraw her accusations based on the evidence we presented. We received no response.
“In order to protect our reputation, we were left with little choice but to release the letter to the media to give us a platform upon which to publicly reject the Senator’s assertions.
“We again call on Senator Ruston to withdraw her statements, and we call on the Prime Minister to reconsider the Government’s commitment to RFAs based on the overwhelming weight of evidence that they are a failed model for forest management.”
Media contact: Alix Goodwin, NPA CEO: 02 9299 0000