Biodiversity Protection – the Gift for the Future

MEDIA RELEASE – 21 DECEMBER 2012

Make a submission by 24th Dec to protect Byron Shire & Regional Biodiversity

Greens MLC Jan Barham is appealing to the community to take the time to give a gift to the future by making a submission to the Byron Shire LEP and writing to the Minister for Planning to ensure that North Coast biodiversity is protected.

“It’s a busy time of year but taking 15mins to write a submission should be a priority for everyone. The Byron Shire is a biodiversity hot spot that is loved by many and it is at risk of not being protected for the future” said Jan Barham MLC.

“The Byron Shire Council, like all north coast councils, has a responsibility to protect, preserve and enhance our natural heritage and its Local Environmental Plans are the tool to achieve this. The State Government is the designer and approval authority for our future and local government is required to develop the document under the restrictive controls set by the state.

“The current LEP has been developed over the last 30 years and has embedded in it the lessons learnt from many court cases and the experience of years of proposals that have attempted to threaten the unique ecological status of the area.

“Council’s current draft LEP proposal which is on exhibition is a status quo document. It does not take away landowners’ current property rights, it attempts to enshrine the current protection of values and constraints to inappropriate development in a new style format.

“The State Government last month announced that it will review the LEP zoning provisions, E2 and E3 environmental zones in rural areas. There has been ongoing campaigning that has included misinformation about the implications of the new Standard Instrument LEP which has been dictated to local government by the State Government. The council, like many others has continued to raise concerns about the new planning process since it was announced in 2004.

“I am appealing to residents, visitors and all those who love and respect the ecological significance of the area; it’s time to do something tangible and engage with a very important process that will determine whether or not we can continue the strong history of stewardship over the significant treasure we live in and love, our biodiversity and its future. Take the time to write a submission to the Byron Shire LEP and write to the Minister for Planning and inform him of our desire to protect our biodiversity. If you love this area and the wonderful life it provides you then please, at this important time express yourself – this is when it counts” said Jan Barham MLC.

“Byron Shire has a long and proud history of biodiversity protection: it was the first LEP in the state to have environmental zones, the first to introduce Ecological Sustainable Development and has produced award winning outcomes with the Flora and Fauna Study, the Biodiversity Conservation Plan, the Byron Rural Settlement Strategy and has achieved outstanding projects like Land for Wildlife, Sustainable Greenprint for the Future and is in the process of finalising a Koala Management Plan. The Byron Shire also boasts significant State protected areas with National Parks, Nature Reserves and State Recreation Areas. The shire is a jewel in Australia’s natural wonderland.”

The information to assist with submission writing is available on the Byron Shire Council website – LEP submissions due by 24th December, and Save North Coast Nature website.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

Make sure the Government gets child protection right

MEDIA RELEASE – 21 DECEMBER 2012

The NSW Greens spokesperson for Family and Community Services, Jan Barham, has welcomed discussion about how to improve the child protection system, and calls on young people, carers and other stakeholders to speak up for a system that supports their needs.

“The Government’s proposed reforms have enormous implications for how children, parents, carers and service providers engage within the child protection system,” Ms Barham said. “Although the stated aims of the reforms – early intervention to address parenting capacity concerns, promoting stability and permanence in care arrangements, and making the system more child-focused – are positive goals, we need to carefully consider how to address the best interests of every child who comes into contact with the child protection system.”

Ms Barham noted that although an emphasis on early prevention and helping parents who were having difficulties was important, the discussion paper focused on how the system would set expectations and enforce breaches by parents, while saying little about how the necessary support would be delivered. The discussion paper proposes introducing a new type of court order that would require parents to attend parenting capacity programs, as well as proposing expansion of Parent Responsibility Contracts to early interventions and unborn children. Breaching these contracts can result in a presumption that a child is in need of care and protection.

“Putting parenting orders and contracts in place, which leave parents at greater risk of losing their children if something goes wrong, does no good unless there is a clear guarantee that appropriate, adequately funded support services will be available to those who need help,” Ms Barham said. “Research tells us that early intervention services make a vital difference to the health and well-being of children and parents, and that’s why the Government needs to be clearly explaining how it will deliver assistance to families at risk.”

“The discussion paper’s emphasis on having fixed timeframes to make permanent decisions about children’s care also deserves scrutiny,” said Ms Barham. “Although it is obviously crucial to ensure children have safe and stable care arrangements, it is also important to maintain children’s connection with their birth family whenever possible, and to make the best possible effort to restore families. The proposals that emphasise moving toward adoption on short timeframes, and in some cases reducing the barriers for birth parents’ consent and involvement, need to be looked at very carefully.”

Submissions on the Child Protection Discussion Paper close on 8 March 2013. The paper can be downloaded from the Have Your Say website. There are upcoming stakeholder briefing sessions with Community Services:

  • Dubbo RSL, 8 February 2013, 1.30pm – 4.30pm
  • The Shellharbour Club, 12 February 2013, 1.30pm – 4.30pm
  • Sydney Masonic Centre, 13 February 2013, 1.30pm – 4.30pm
  • Ballina RSL, 22 February 2013, 12.30pm – 3.30pm

RSVP to geetha.nair@facs.nsw.gov.au by 31 January 2013

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

Government response to tourism report falls short on jobs, safety and standards

MEDIA RELEASE – 20 DECEMBER 2012

Local jobs are at risk, aircraft movements would increase and National Parks are under threat of development from the NSW Government’s tourism strategies, warns Jan Barham, the NSW Greens spokesperson on tourism.

“The Government’s response to the Visitor Economy Taskforce report has endorsed strategies that would jeopardise local employment and give support to tourism development in National Parks, but does not address visitor safety in our National Parks in relation to the approval for shooting of feral animals,” Jan Barham said.

The Visitor Economy Taskforce report, released in June, identified key strategies and actions along with a commitment to double overnight visitor expenditure by 2020, and the State Government has now endorsed that report. The release of the NSW Government’s response has defined some positive strategies for tourism but also supports additional Sydney Airport movements, development in National Parks and moves to increase the working visas for travellers putting at risk jobs for locals.

“The Taskforce report identified that nature is the primary attraction for domestic visitors to NSW yet the potential for development and shooting in protected areas such as National Parks puts visitors at risk. Destination NSW should commit to visitor safety education regarding shooting as they do for surf safety, but in Estimates hearings the Minister for Tourism denied that this was his responsibility,” said Jan Barham.

The Government’s response included support for the relaxation of current aircraft movements at Sydney Airport.

“Increased aircraft movements at Sydney Airport will come as a shock to Sydney residents who already experience extensive amenity impact from the current level of aircraft traffic. The NSW Government will refer this matter to the Commonwealth, but they should be up-front in advising Sydney residents of their support for increased disturbance,” said Jan Barham.

“The government should be ensuring that there is local employment in the tourism industry, but instead it is supporting an increase of the working holiday options for overseas travellers. In some areas there may be worker shortages but in coastal locations there is potential for locals to miss out on much needed employment in favour of travellers. This is the case with towns like Byron Bay, where travellers often get the jobs that locals need.”

“The response by Government also supports cutting red tape for tourism development, but many tourism developments are located in sensitive and significant ecological areas. It is vital that detailed planning consideration is given to these developments that can pose a risk to biodiversity, community and visitor safety, along with traffic and social impacts.”

Jan Barham also called for clearly defined eco-tourism development controls and a system of accreditation for this industry sector. “The Greens consider it essential that travellers are assured that eco-tourism operators’ marketing and promotion is matched by appropriate standards of operation. The NSW Government should consider linking funding support to the quality product development, as New Zealand has been able to do with its 100% Pure campaign.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

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