Baird Government Minister attacks River Red Gum National Parks as World Parks Congress opens in Sydney

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The Labor Opposition is calling on the NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes to urgently clarify the Coalition Government’s intentions for the river red gum forests in the state’s south after the Minister’s representative in the Upper House attacked the reservation of the forests as national parks.

The Baird Liberal Government’s Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox, acting as the representative of the Environment Minister in Legislative Council Question Time, said of Labor’s 2009 decision to protect the river red gums:

 

“those opposite should hang their heads in shame because the day the decision was made to lock up the red gum forests was a day this Parliament should not be proud of”.

Labor’s Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley has called on Mr Stokes to reassure the community that commercial loggers will not be allowed to operate in the iconic red gum reserves.

“That the Environment Minister’s official representative could launch a swingeing attack on the reservation of the river red gum forests reveals the depth of hostility to nature conservation in the Liberal and National parties,” Mr Foley said.

“On the very day the once in a decade World Parks Congress opens, in Sydney, a Baird Government Cabinet Minister has opened up the possibility of a return of the loggers to the red gum parks, noting “further proposals in that area.

Mr Mason-Cox commented in the Upper House that the river red gum forests:

“are a magnificent resource that is under a lot of pressure as a result of being locked up because of that infamous declaration by a former Premier of this State. We remember the sad day in the other place when the then Premier made that announcement.”

“Coalition and Shooters members on the Public Land Management Inquiry recommended that commercial loggers be readmitted to the river red gum forests to carry out timer cutting activities,” Mr Foley said.

“The world’s major conference concerning protected areas is in town for the next seven days.

“Mr Stokes should immediately distance himself from these comments made by his representative in the Upper House, and assure the World Parks Congress and the people of NSW that the Liberal-National Government will maintain Labor’s protections for the river red gum forests in Southern NSW.

“He should rule out the loggers return to these iconic forests – and he should ditch Mr Mason-Cox as his representative in the Legislative Council.”