Beware the new squatters

The Beagle Editor John Menadue former Australian Ambassador and founding Chair and Fellow of NewMatilda argues that today’s developers are the new squatters on public land. Like their 19th century counterparts are ‘given a leg up to seize and occupy public land’. Today developer friendly Conservative governments are posing a real threat to National Parks by putting commercial interests before the public interests by allowing developers to take over more of our public land. It is detrimental to the public that Conservative governments ideological belief in ‘small government’ does not extend to their ‘friends’.

The developer friendly NSW Berijiklian government is a threat to the Eurobodalla having deliberately underfunded National Parks. On the South Coast this year twenty experienced National Parks and Wildlife Service Officers have lost their jobs, leaving only the Rural Fires Service fighting the recent bush fires. Some fear the Berejiklian governments ultimate aim is to privatise National Parks that, let’s never forget, belong to the public. National Parks are our ‘common wealth’.

Our ‘common wealth’ in the Eurobodalla National Parks is under threat from the Eurobodalla Council as well. Eurobodalla Council’s Rural Lands Strategy (RLS) will rezone mostly High Conservation Value land to allow development and agriculture. Endangered species, wetlands, pristine water ways and the local oyster industry, that Eurobodalla is loved and known for is under threat. Despite consistent expert advice against aspects of Council’s RLS from NSW Government Agencies and strong arguments against the RLS by local scientists, 10 Associations and individuals, the Mayor, staff and most Councillors refuse to listen.

You would think that the Rural Fire Service advice to Council that the RLS ‘should not proceed in its current form’ because ‘it does not achieve the primary objective to protect life, property and the environment’, would be enough for the Mayor, staff and most Councillors to stop and think. Alas no.

Of course, with a growing population development needs to occur. But why develop against expert advice? John Menadue is right ‘more and more our National Parks our ‘common wealth’ which were designed for the enjoyment of us all are being trampled under foot by developers, the new squatters.’ Maureen Searson


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