NSWGovernment Is Deceptive In “Consultation” On Regional Forest Agreements The South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) is incredulous at the Department of Primary Industry’s (DPI) farcical process to consult on the future of the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). The RFAs were negotiated nearly 20 years ago as agreements between the NSW and Commonwealth Governments defining the rules for the logging of public native forests including compulsory 5 yearly reviews. These agreements “assume” that the legislative requirements of the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act are fulfilled, but they aren’t. “Those reviews haven’t been done as required, yet both governments have apparently agreed to renew the RFAs without any data or consultation,” SERCA Secretary Seán Burke said. “Now they are pretending to consult stakeholders and the public about how they will continue the destruction of our native forests.” There are two parts to the process and much confusion in the government about how those processes will work. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) released the draft second and third reports (2004-2014) just before Christmas and they are open for comment until 23rd February. These propaganda laden reports contain no actual data, with masses of useless detail on processes. There’s effectively no assessment of outcomes, much less possible new management frameworks for the future. So much data is sadly lacking from these reports and they don’t provide significant evidence necessary to decide that the RFAs should be renewed. The second part is “consultation” by DPI with stakeholders and the public on the future of the RFAs with no information provided on possible options. They state “The NSW and Australian governments are encouraging all stakeholders to have their say on what shape the future extended RFAs should take,” with no opportunity to say whether they should be renewed or not. These submissions close on 12th March. Local drop-in DPI “consultations” that sound like “We won’t tell you what we’re doing, but you can tell us how you would like us to do it” will be held in Eden for invited stakeholders from 11:00am – 12:00noon and the public from 12:30pm on Tuesday 13th February and Batemans Bay on the 14th. “The EPA reports don’t mention more than 4,000 breaches of legislative requirements that they identified over the 10 years of the reviews,” Mr Burke, said. “Shouldn’t these endemic non- compliance incidents be considered before deciding to continue environmental destruction?” He added “They don’t even detail the three prosecutions of NSW Forestry in the Land and EnvironmentCourt over those years either - pathetic.” NSW is the only state where they can only be prosecuted by another government department with public action prohibited. SERCA strongly believes the native timber industry can be responsibly wound back and be far more profitable to Australia as a sustainable carbon store and valuable tourism resource for all our futures. See http://www.greatsouthernforest.org.au/. Media Release
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