Dominic Perrottet's claim to "have the strongest record on environment anywhere in the country" doesn't stack up against his dismal failure to protect koala habitat in NSW, writes Sue Arnold.
Sounds a bit like the use of the "Big Lie" has crept into the forthcoming NSW state election. If Perrottet believes his record is the strongest in the country, Australia's environment is in big trouble.
Admittedly, the holder of the record of the worst environmental government is line-ball - it's difficult to find any difference as every state government's environmental record is nothing short of abysmal.
Aside from Perrottet's ongoing lack of concern with koala extinction, the real record goes like this:
On climate change
In October 2021, as reported by Australian Financial Review, Perrottet did not resile from his top bureaucrats urging that:
It is estimated the average Australian carbon footprint is about 15 tonnes of CO2 per year - way more than the two tonnes recommended.
Do the maths on those emissions with an extra two million people.
On climate change and emission reduction
Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) analysed approvals by NSW authorities since the start of the Paris Agreement five years ago. The analysis found that authorities had approved new fossil fuel projects expected to release at least three billion tonnes of greenhouse gas - six times more than what Australia emits in a year.
The NSW Independent Planning Commission and its predecessor have approved 23 coal and gas projects since the climate deal came into force in November 2016. According to The Guardian, this was also the month the NSW Government promised to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
On national parks
In 2016-l7, $121 million was cut from the state's national parks' budget, removing approximately 100 ranger jobs. Three years later, $80 million went from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
In the 2022-23 budget, $598 million over ten years is allocated to NPWS to secure 250 jobs for firefighting and conservation roles.
Both Kean and Perrottet have strenuously avoided any reference to or consideration of significant efforts by local councils, scientists, economists and communities to declare the Great Koala National Park.
Kean, as Environment Minister, was regarded as the saviour of Campbelltown koalas - the last disease-free urban population left in the state. After a visit to the area several years ago, Kean made many promises, none of which have transpired.
His responses to questions asked at a budget estimates inquiry in 2022 made clear that doublespeak is the language of the day for the Coalition.
Sharp then asked:
As yet, there are no corridors, no overpasses or underpasses allowing koalas to move safely, given the population increase projected and planned for southwest Sydney.
The estimated resident population for Western Sydney (Local Government Area) LGA for 2021 is 2,620,162. In 2016, it was estimated at 1,081,070. Massive urban projects are being constructed or projected to be built to accommodate a major planned population increase in the region.
But let's not forget that the "policies", which Perrottet waxed lyrical over, are also the policies of the Coalition partner - the infamous anti-koala, anti-environment National Party. Now, there's a really strong candidate for the worst environmental policy prize.
Aside from the koala wars, with The Nationals working tirelessly to weaken the state environmental planning policy for koalas (Koala SEPP 21) and, more recently, efforts to basically do away with local government protection of habitat, there's no mention of the "e" word in the National Party's website link to policies.
From their website it appears The Nationals don't like environmentalists or inner-city bureaucrats who oppose building new dams:
Furthermore, it declares:
As for those inner-city activists, they're a big problem for The Nationals:
A more accurate description of The Nationals stand would be "wildlife, particularly koalas, flora, forests and ecosystems do not have a right to feel safe... The National Party is working to destroy what we've worked so hard to build".
Perrottet, a devout Catholic, has perhaps forgotten the words of Pope Francis' encyclical letter on "care for our common home":
Perhaps it's time for the NSW Premier to reflect on those words.