In light of the impact of land clearing on wildlife, Frydenberg’s stance on whales appears tokenistic, writes Dr Oisín Sweeney.
Yesterday’s revelations in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) that the Baird government has dipped into the Climate Change Fund to find the $240 million for private land conservation is the latest piece of worrying Coalition climate policy says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).
The $240 million has been repeatedly touted by the government as being a safety net against a return to broad scale land clearing resulting from the repeal of the Native Vegetation Act, but has been labelled by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists as ‘a taxpayer subsidy to farmers to clear land’.
The NSW Nature Conservation Council and NSW National Parks Association are calling for a full public investigation into the political interference in the enforcement of land-clearing laws following revelations by the ABC Lateline program last night. 
Last night’s program exposed the grubby background to the Baird government’s controversial land clearing laws, set to pass through NSW Parliament today, including illegal clearing of Crown land, political intimidation and interference in land-clearing investigations, distressed farmers who have been used as political pawns, and murder of public officials.
What does it mean to be an icon in NSW? Not much apparently. Unless the Baird government has a complete rethink of its environment policy the iconic koala faces a bleak future says the National Parks Association of NSW.
Koalas are one of just six of the 1000-odd threatened species put on an ‘iconic’ pedestal in the NSW government’s Saving our Species (SOS) programme. According to the government, “iconic species are important socially, culturally and economically, and the community expects them to be effectively managed and protected”1.
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 rampant clearing that is threatened is eerily reminiscent of that which occurred in Queensland under Campbell Newman’s disastrous reign—a mess that the incumbent Labor government still hasn’t been able to clean up.
Added to the increasing intensity of native forest logging and loss of habitat for urban development, the pending wave of land clearing will push koalas to the brink in NSW says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).