Pressure on Nats over native veg

Pressure on Nats over native veg

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TIME is running out to fix controversial native vegetation laws, as pressure to reform rises on the Nationals.

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TIME is running out to fix controversial native vegetation laws, as pressure to reform rises on the Nationals.

With the NSW Parliament adjourning in two weeks for the summer break, the onus is on the government to debate the Shooters' amendment Bill for Native Vegetation legislation.

A spokesman for NSW Nationals leader Troy Grant said the Government "supports the Bill being debated before Parliament rises".

NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson called for the Nationals to back the Bill.

“It is time for our elected representatives ... to demonstrate their support for us on this one,” she said.

“The changes proposed won’t fix everything but the opportunity to make these changes should not be overlooked.”

The Shooters Bill was introduced by Shooters MLC Robert Brown back in May in the wake of three years of the Nationals’ glacial reform progress in fulfilling its election promise to reform native veg laws.

The Nationals responded to the Shooters’ Bill by kicking off a full review of all legislation relating to biodiversity – in the hope of root-and-branch reform. However, sweeping reforms can take years to implement.

But Mrs Simson said any interim measures would be welcomed by farmers, who are hamstrung by current laws.

“At the moment, farmers are prevented from acting in the best interests of both the environment and their businesses,” Mrs Simson said.

“They can’t manage invasive species, effectively prepare for drought or develop new farming country.”

The Bill includes proposals to modify control on clearing native vegetation so it only applies to the clearing of indigenous trees; to allow broadscale clearing if it’s in the social, economic and environmental interests of the region and to reduce the penalties for unauthorised clearing.

Mr Brown called for immediate action when he introduced the Bill back in May.

“Farmers and people in the bush deserve to have politicians deliver what they promise. The time for empty words and rhetoric has passed.”

The Nationals have been contacted for comment.

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