O’Farrell Government attacks Labor’s native forest protections

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The O’Farrell Government has moved to reverse one of Labor’s important environmental protections – finalising regulations that will allow the destruction of the state’s forests for electricity generation.

The O’Farrell Government’s regulation – which came into effect today – creates new exemptions to the ban on burning native vegetation for electricity.

In 2003, the Carr Labor Government made it illegal to burn native vegetation to create electricity.

Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley said Labor’s laws ensured that logging did not occur in order to feed power stations and that land clearing was not done as resource harvesting.

“Labor made it illegal to burn native vegetation to generate power when in government," Mr Foley said.

“The ecological costs of native forest logging are well known. Native forests are important for biodiversity and store large amounts of carbon.

“Allowing native forests to be burnt for power will drive increased logging, as all native forest species will be attractive to electricity generators.”

Mr Foley also expressed Labor’s concern that the regulation change that allows burning of “invasive native species” will create financial incentives for land holders to rort the intention of the Native Vegetation Act and clear valuable bushland.

“Today’s move, coming two days after Prime Minister Abbott’s declaration that Australia has ‘too many national parks’, confirms the Coalition’s relentless hostility to Australia’s great native forests,” Mr Foley said.

“Only Labor governments act to conserve our native forests.”

Labor will move to disallow the O’Farrell Government’s regulation in the Upper House when it resumes the week after next.