Liberal-National War On The Environment Continues With Massive Budget Cuts To Office Of Environment

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage, Penny Sharpe MLC, has called the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s 2018 Budget another example of the war being waged on the environment across NSW.

The budget papers (Budget Paper No. 3, page 7 - 25) reveal that the Berejiklian Government has slashed the environment budget, cutting $66 million out of the state’s chief environment agency, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in addition to a large underspend of $165 million from last year’s budget.

This cut and underspend means that there is $231 million less funding available to spend on the environmental challenges facing NSW. Less money for national parks, tackling plastic pollution, solving the waste and recycling crisis, and saving the more than 1,000 threatened species in NSW.

The $231 million is equivalent to 20 percent of all spending allocated to OEH in 2018-19.

Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC has revealed in her media release of June 20th, 2018 that the cuts mean this year’s budget for OEH is less than the Government’s first budget eight years ago and demonstrates that the Liberals and Nationals have just slashed and burned their way through the key environmental agency in NSW. "The magnitude of the damage caused by the Berejiklian Government’s reckless approach to the environment will be measured in decades, not years." Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC

The cuts in this year’s budget continue the Government’s already abysmal environment record, including:

  • Introducing laws that will increase land clearing and bulldoze native wildlife and vegetation, including threatening up to 99 percent of core koala habitat;

  • Previous cuts of $121 million from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and sacking 26 percent of permanent rangers and 35 percent of area managers;

  • Seven years of inaction on koalas before finally releasing a Koala Strategy this year, resulting in plummeting koala populations around the state and dire predictions for koala extinction in NSW;

  • Refusing to ban plastic bags to protect marine and bird life (NSW is the only Australian state with no ban);

  • Passing laws to protect wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park instead of protecting the unique, threatened native species in our only alpine national park;

  • Pursuing renewal of the 20-year Regional Forest Agreements without reference to proper science or the impact of these agreements on the state’s ability to combat dangerous climate change; and

  • Failing to protect the marine environment by watering down sanctuary zones within marine parks and refusing to establish a marine park for Sydney.

It further adds to the woes of heritage protection, with the Government failing to meet targets: no new Aboriginal places of significance were declared in the previous year, out of a target of 10; and only four listings were added to the State Heritage Register of items nominated last year, out of a target of 20. “We have seen constant underfunding, under-resourcing, and denialism in the face of in-depth science and evidence telling us we need to do more to protect the environment. It is simply a disgrace. Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC

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