Labor deregulation to unleash loggers

November 23, 1994

Labor deregulation to unleash loggers

By Paul Oboohov

SYDNEY — As New South Wales counts down to the state election in March, the Wilderness Society's Western Sydney branch hosted a forum asking whether Carr Labor would make a difference to the environment if elected. Fronting was Labor's shadow minister for the environment, Pam Allen, from the state Centre Unity (right) faction.

Allen toughed it out. Dealing with the Garden of Stone area of sandstone pagoda-like formations in the mountains above Lithgow, where land subsidence due to coal mining is damaging the formations, was put in the too hard basket. Allen shrugged off criticism, saying that the issue "is one of the worst aspects of our policy".

Intimating that there was a new maturity in the labour movement in regard to forest issues, Allen claims there is a concession by unions covering forestry workers that in some areas perhaps some jobs are not environmentally justified.

Asked whether a Carr Labor government could give a categorical denial that it would not privatise, corporatise or open up to competition state government bodies such the Forestry Commission, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Water Board and the Environment Protection Agency, Allen did not mince words: of course the Forestry Commission would be opened up to competition, this being Labor's response to the shoddy forest management practices of that body.

Allen went on to say that a Labor government would corporatise the Water Board, but categorically denied any action in regard to the Environment Protection Agency. She did not mention the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

If at the moment forests are being mismanaged, then the answer for an environmentally aware government would surely be to reform the secretive body and open it up to public scrutiny and accountability. Instead, Labor's recipe will be to set up private regulators in competition with it. This can only lead to conflicts of interest.

Corporatisation of the Water Board will lead to higher prices for water, due to requirements to turn a profit. And the exclusion of NPWS from Allen's answer is ominous.

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