Parks stalemate

By Zoe McMaugh

NSW Shadow Minister for Environment Kate Washington has bluntly stated ‘‘we (NSW Labor) would never support a de-gazettal of a National Park’’ following her visit to Deniliquin and district last week.

But the Shadow Minister has said if a review of the thinning trials in the Murray Valley National Park show it has been beneficial for the environment, she would support a return of management by harvesting to the local forests.

Ms Washington said any efforts by the NSW Nationals to pre-empt the results of that study — including the bill intended to return logging to the forest being championed by Deputy Premier John Barilaro — will not be accepted by the Opposition.

‘‘If there is to be thinning, it should be guided by the thinning review,’’ Ms Washington said.‘‘It is the outcomes that should be guiding future operations in the National Park, and not politics.

‘‘Politics is going to pre-empt those outcomes, and I feel the Deputy Premier is giving people false hope instead of genuine solutions.

‘‘Any decisions should be driven by environmental outcomes.‘‘If the review shows it (thinning results) improves environmental outcomes on the number of criteria, then absolutely I would support it.

‘‘The review is inconclusive at this stage, so it will take some time.’’

Ms Washington and Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully toured the Murray Valley National Park and two local sawmills on Thursday with timber industry small business owners Ben Danckert and Chris Crump.

On Friday, Ms Washington and Mr Scully met with National Parks and Wildlife Service and members of the Indigenous community around Moama.

‘‘It is helpful to understand the different perspectives, and to learn that everyone we spoke to has a genuine interest in maintaining the environment of the National Park,’’ Ms Washington said.

‘‘Everyone I spoke to has a different perspective on how the park ought to be managed.

‘‘My understanding of what happens in the National Park was only from reading about it, so having the conversations, meeting people with extensive and generations of knowledge was invaluable.’’

Mr Danckert said while there was a stalemate on the de-gazettal option — with he and Mr Crump refusing to back down on their request and Ms Washington and Mr Scully refusing to support it — he said he is confident the shadow ministers will take on board other potential solutions offered to them.

‘‘The first, I told them, was that there is now a precedent against the now commercial operations in national parks ruling because of the thinning trials,’’ Mr Danckert said.

‘‘We also highlighted that the Natural Resources Commission report’s 10 key recommendations including one that said the forest needed to be actively managed.

‘‘The third point was in relation to the RAMSAR listing of the forest in 2003, before the National Park was created. Experts preparing it said harvesting the forest was imperative to the ecological state of RAMSAR listing.

‘‘There are three avenues there to get commercial harvesting back in to the forest.’’

Mr Crump said the value Ms Washington says she obtained as a result of her visit should be used to encourage more politicians to come and ‘‘see for themselves’’.

‘‘There are people who are making decisions on our livelihoods that have never visited, and I am pleased the shadow ministers made the effort to come here and take a look.

‘We need to invite more people down to show them what’s happening here, and that includes putting more pressure on our side (the Liberal/Nationals).

‘‘I am a member of the National Party, and I believe we need to get some of the Liberal counterparts down here for a look too before they make decisions which affect our lives.’’