Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Wilderness separates the major parties

The responses to an environment group questionnaire reveal that the NSW Labor remains committed to wilderness protection, while the Liberal and National Parties are no longer interested in the issue.

“Labor's responses to our questionnaire outline an on-going commitment to further protection for our remaining large, intact natural areas (wilderness). The Coalition, on the other hand, didn't bother to reply,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The Greens and Democrat responses were outstanding in their understanding of wilderness issues and policy. The Greens and Democrats will fight any weakening of wilderness protection in this State and support further protection for threatened wilderness within state forests”, Mr Muir said.

“Labor has agreed to develop cross border wilderness management with other states, but it no longer supports the Dunphy Wilderness Fund nor will it reinstate the Wilderness Unit. Our 1.9 million hectare wilderness estate deserves more sympathetic and consistent management to ensure survival of wildlife in the long term ”, he said.

“We remain concerned with the Coalition's plan to open up wilderness areas to horse riding and grazing, as these core parts of the reserve system should remain fully protected. We hope that the National and Liberal parties will have a change of heart and respond positively to our questions,” he said.

“We are pleased that Labor will not abolish any national park, or log or mine them. Labor also will finalise the reserve outcomes from the Goulburn sub-regional forest assessment,” he said.

“The NSW Labor party is, unfortunately, not offering any better protection for water supply catchments from the damaging effects of coal mining (although they say it is a top priority). But Labor does support enhanced world heritage protection for the Blue Mountains and a World Heritage nomination over the Australian Alps”, said Mr Muir.

“These responses tell me that environment groups must engage more with the Coalition parties to ensure continued bipartisan support for core conservation policy, such as wilderness protection. It is a clear message that we need to build our relationships with them”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)