Media Release: The war on trees continues in NSW Parliament

New laws just passed the Parliament will lead to a further epidemic of land clearing around NSW under the guise of bushfire protection, despite the fact they were not recommendations from any of the inquiries into the unprecedented fire season.

The Government’s Bushfires Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 should be called the National Party Appeasement Bill, with the changes having little to do with actual protections for communities against fires.

The changes made by the bill include a new clearing rule which allows clearing within 25 metres of their boundary. This is in addition to existing land clearing exemptions and the 10/50 rule which allows tree clearing around dwellings.

Despite the change not being recommended by any state or federal bushfire inquiry and the obvious environmental damage it will cause, it was supported by NSW Labor.

Greens MP and Emergency Service Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: 

“The Government claims to be learning the lessons of the bushfire season but there’s nothing new here. This is part of their ongoing war on nature and First Nations heritage.

“The changes in this bill were not recommendations from experts or from the bushfire inquiry, they’re designed to placate the angry right wing of NSW politics and neither Labor or the Coalition had the courage to stand up to them.

“Clearing under this scheme will occur with no assessment and no protections, no data will be gathered, and no checks will be in place. This is a recipe for lawlessness.

“The epidemic of clearing we’ve seen since 2017 law changes did nothing to fend off the most catastrophic fire season on record. Clearing and logging is making landscapes drier, and even cleared paddocks of grass or bare earth burned in the fires.

“Instead of using time and resources to respond to the dozens of legitimate recommendations from these inquiries including the need to take rapid action on climate change, we have more of the Government’s war on trees.

“It’s hard to explain Labor’s support of this bill as being anything other than a complete lack of principle and political courage.

“If they were serious about bushfires they would help property owners understand where fire risks are, instead it’s more culture wars fought with chainsaws” Mr Shoebridge said.