Management of public land in NSW
John Williams The Nationals Member for Murray-Darling welcomed the General Purpose Standing Committee No.5 inquiry into the management of public land in New South Wales during a Private Members Statement in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Williams said the committee will investigate a decision that was made by the previous Labor Government relating to the conversion of State Forests into National Parks.
'The process that was followed by that Government did not recognise the number of people involved in the industry and much of the scientific evidence that was raised by the Natural Resources Commission was challenged by locals.
'The Australian Bureau of Statistics was accurate in its figure of the number of people engaged in the forestry industry – in its last census, 1,300 people had stated they earned their living from forestry.
'As a consequence of the State Forest being converted to a National Park, the fallout has been felt throughout the Riverina communities and many find it difficult to accept that the industry is not sustainable given that a number of reports have highlighted its sustainability,' Mr Williams said.
Mr Williams said the committee will be holding hearings in Deniliquin and Balranald, as these communities and ones surrounding them were greatly affected by the conversion of forestry areas into National Parks.
'The inquiry will provide an opportunity for those affected to talk about what is currently on the table and what opportunities remain for them. The management of those National Parks is a matter of concern.
'The Natural Resources Commission report recommended that certain thinning operations take place, and that plays an important part in the maintenance of a good, viable and healthy forest. There will be a number of challenges for the future if thinning practices are not implemented as without thinning, red gum tree saplings will compete with other trees. Despite the recommendations of the Natural Resources Commission, it is apparent there have been no thinning operations been carried out.
The Western Division Group of Councils is also calling for changes to National Parks Management.
The Council is asking the State Government to consider a trial grazing lease of parts the Bourke property “Toorale” which became a National park several years ago.
President Peter Laird said that issue surrounding management and fire hazards in National parks are not isolated to NSW. He told ABC radio that as the feed in National Parks becomes older and ranker native animals move off park onto grazing land, where often the feed is shorten and sweeter. This leaves the older and bigger feed on Parks as a fire danger.
Peter said that this problem is not isolated to NSW and that he has had talks with farmers from the high country of Victoria on similar problems.