Gary Dunnett, NPA CEO
I’m writing this introduction in the months immediately before the NSW election of 2023. There is no doubt that an election is imminent, but we’re still in that relative calm before the announcement of major policies and 100% media focus on polling and predications.
Something I find increasingly frustrating is that, as we get close to election days, politicians and the media do their best to convince us that the most important issues are some permutation of the economy, health and education. However important environmental issues might be in the ‘between years’ of the electoral cycle, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters such as the 2019 fires or 2022 floods, they always seem to fade from the political forefront at election time.
You might think that the success of the federal Teals and fast growing profile of their NSW equivalents might spur the major parties into environmental action, but there has been little sign of that to date. As I write in mid-February, the Labor Party has confirmed their support for a Great Koala National Park; the Premier has categorically stated his government’s opposition to the idea; and the Greens have reminded us that they oppose public native forestry.
Where’s the high environmental ambition? A comprehensive commitment to transition from logging in public native forests to plantation based wood production. A costed, credible plan to lift from our current 10% protected areas to managing 30% of our land for biodiversity purposes by 2030. A pathway out of the disastrous levels of land clearing driving so many species to extinction. The resolution to transform our woefully inadequate marine protected areas into the jewels in the conservation crown. The determination to control the feral pests and weeds decimating our most precious alpine habitats. And the willingness to pursue all legal avenues to protect our parks from inappropriate development.
In other words, all the policies, actions and commitments we need from government if our biodiversity and natural landscapes are to survive the environmental crises that are already upon us.
Where governments fail to take the policy lead there is no choice but for individuals and community based organisations to fill the void. This edition of Nature NSW shows how NPA, and our colleagues across the conservation movement, are taking decisive steps to demonstrate what is needed to protect nature, and to remind our parliamentarians that the environment doesn’t stop being a priority just because an election is around the corner.
I truly hope that, whatever the outcome of the NSW election, the message gets through. New government, the environment is no fringe issue. Don’t worry yourselves, the solutions are not so very difficult. We have the understanding, the policies and the science. You just need to listen.