The Nationals are at it again!
Written by: Duncan B. on 23 April 2021
Just when you thought that the National Party could not sink any lower into the depths of infamy with their Climate Change denial, support for the coal industry and sabotage of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, they are at it again. This time they have launched an attack on our native forests.
In a move described as unusual for a member of the government, Bridget McKenzie, leader of the Nationals in the Senate has moved a private member’s Bill to exempt native forest logging across Australia from national environmental protection.
Senator McKenzie’s bill is in response to a Federal Court ruling by Justice Mortimer in May, which sets a precedent for logging to be subject to the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The Federal Court found in favour of an environment group against VicForests over its logging of Central Highlands forest coupes which include habitats for Greater Gliders and the endangered Leadbeater’s Possums.
VicForests claimed that it is exempted from federal oversight by the logging agreement between the state and federal governments known as a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) which provides a management plan to “balance” the environmental effect of logging with economic factors.
In return, commercial logging operations have been exempted from national laws that protect endangered species. Justice Mortimer’s ruling has set a precedent in the Federal Court that invoked national protections for the listed glider and possum species under the EPBC Act.
VicForests, a body owned by the Government of Victoria, has appealed against the Court decision. VicForests’ actions appear to be at odds with all the fine-sounding words on the VicForests website about their care for the environment and native species.
Our native forests have faced destruction from logging and bushfires yet the Nationals want to make it easier for the destruction of our native forests and the habitats they provide for native species to continue unrestricted. Even the Environment Minister Sussan Ley has said that McKenzie’s amendments are not government policy.
Bridget Mc Kenzie was elected in the 2010 election and entered Parliament in 2011 as a senator for Victoria. She has held a number of portfolios including Rural Health, Sport, Regional Communications, Regional Services and Agriculture. As Minister for Sport she earned lasting notoriety for her role in the “sports rort” scandal.
Like McCormack, Joyce, and Canavan and the other crazies in the National Party’s leadership, McKenzie is a fervent advocate for the coal industry. She has also voted in Parliament strongly in favour of unconventional gas mining. This goes against the interests of the very people the Nationals claim to represent. Many farmers have led the fight against fracking and are active in organisations such as “Shut The Gate.”
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