The Greens’ Parliamentary action on Baryulgil

Background – Media Reports

Parliamentary Record

Call for Planning Minister to intervene in Belongil rock wall & Ewingsdale rezoning

Rally Opposing Belongil Beach Rockwalls

Greens North Coast spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has called for NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes stop a decision for a 1km rockwall at the Belongil and the rezoning of land at Ewingsdale for a seniors and commercial development.

“I’m outraged by the actions of Byron Shire Council in overturning planning principles that have been in place since 1988 for the coast and for strategic residential and commercial development. The current council is acting against the interests of the residents of Byron Shire,” said Ms Barham.

“It is a folly to consider that it is feasible to defend the coastline. It is also an affront to many residents as the planned retreat principle was advised to owners prior to their purchase of coastal land. It appears that the current council is willing to advance the property interests of a few and require Byron Shire’s residents to pay for it.

“Byron Council cannot be allowed to proceed with such irresponsible considerations that undermine solid planning principles. The community is not being informed of future liability and there seems to be no regard for the history and property owners’ prior knowledge of risk. Also, advice regarding the legal implications of reversing the long-standing and legally upheld principle of Planned Retreat hasn’t been made known to the community.

“The Ewingsdale rezoning for a seniors and commercial development does not meet the State Planning requirements to have a Local Growth Management Strategy in place. In the last 30 years this site has never been considered for residential and or commercial development.

“I am calling on Planning Minister Rob Stokes to step in and stop Byron Council from making a decision to support the building of a 1 kilometre rockwall at Belongil and an unwarranted and unwanted rezoning at Ewingsdale.

“The current majority on council are out of control and are putting at risk the future of Byron Shire. The impacts of such poor decisions have ecological, social, infrastructure and financial implications that have not been adequately assessed or supported by the community. The legal implications must also be addressed before more irresponsible decisions are made. It’s time for the Planning Minister to exercise his powers over Byron Shire Council and stop the madness,” said Ms Barham.

The Minister released new draft coastal planning laws last year and the submission period has just finalised, with new legislation due to be introduced into Parliament in the coming months. The State is a major stakeholder in coastal management with the beaches that will be affected being Crown Land.

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Letter from Jan Barham MLC to the NSW Minister for Planning

Greens call for investigation of Gold Coast Airport PFOS/PFOA soil contamination

Lindy Smith, Dawn Walker, Jan Barham MLC, Cr Gary Bagnall and Mayor Katie Milne visit the Crown Reserve affected by Gold Coast airport expansion

North Coast Greens MP Jan Barham and Environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi have called on the NSW Government to investigate and provide information about the soil contamination involving potentially carcinogenic chemicals at Gold Coast Airport.

Greens Environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC said: “This contamination involves the same perfluorocarbon chemicals that affected surface and ground water at the Williamtown RAAF base in the Hunter, affecting fisheries and prompting health warnings and multiple investigations.

“I wrote to the Environment Minister back in October last year seeking information as to whether what happened at Williamtown could happen anywhere else in the State and did not receive a reply. People shouldn’t have to find out about major contaminations by accident.

“I’ve lodged questions on notice in Parliament asking the Environment Minister whether the NSW Government had been informed about this contamination and seeking an investigation of the extent of the contamination and the risks it might pose to the surrounding region.

“The Cobaki Broadwater and its biodiversity deserve protection under the Ramsar Convention so it’s crucial for the Minister to ensure there is no risk to the wetland and the Tweed region.”

Greens North Coast spokesperson Jan Barham MLC said: “The presence of these toxic and persistent chemicals at Gold Coast Airport is a cause for concern in the Tweed region, and the NSW Government needs to provide information to the community.

“I’m troubled that this information has only come to light after the airport’s proposed Instrument Landing System (ILS) was approved and the final Major Development Plan was released.

“The draft plan that was released for public comments last year didn’t mention these chemicals, despite the fact that their use in firefighting was discontinued around 2010.

“In question time today I’ll call on the Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water to act to halt the installation of the ILS on NSW Crown Land until a full Environmental Impact Assessment and investigation of the potential impacts have been undertaken.

“The NSW Government has to respond urgently to address the concerns of the Tweed community.”

Contacts for further comment:
– Matt Hilton for Mehreen Faruqi 9230 2625 / 0423 106 247
– Jan Barham 0447 853 891

BACKGROUND:
Questions on notice to Environment Minister
Watch question time 2:30pm-3:30pm today

Greens MPs call for protection of North Coast wetlands under threat on World Wetlands Day

Cobaki wetlands

Greens NSW MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC and North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, have today called on the Baird Government to focus on protecting wetlands in New South Wales, including calling for Ramsar protection for the Cobaki Catchment on the North Coast.

World Wetlands Day commemorates the signing of the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands.

Dr Faruqi said:

“Wetlands play a vital role in a healthy environment, including for all the waterways that criss-cross the state. Unfortunately, we are losing wetlands across the state and with it their rich biodiversity.

“This World Wetlands Day, I am calling on the NSW Premier to get serious about protecting our vital wetlands and give them the protection they deserve, including from the threats of fossil fuel mining, inappropriate development and pollution” she stated.

North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, said:

“The Cobaki catchment is a world class ecological and cultural treasure that is deserving of protection. As the popularity and pressures on this beautiful and important area grow, there is a greater need to protect and preserve this significant landscape.

“I will be presenting a motion to the Parliament when it resumes for the nomination by the NSW Government of the Cobaki Broadwater Catchment for Ramsar Convention protection.

“The NSW Government has an important role in the nomination of sites that meet the criteria and on World Wetlands Day I am pleased that the Greens are recognising and celebrating the natural and cultural environment and seeking protection of this national treasure” Ms Barham concluded.

Media Contact:

Matt Hilton for Mehreen Faruqi: 0423 106 247 / (02) 9230 2625.
Jan Barham: 0447 853 891

Call for Inquiry – NSW public land being used for airport runway expansion

Lindy Smith, Dawn Walker, Jan Barham MLC, Cr Gary Bagnall and Mayor Katie Milne visit the Crown Reserve affected by Gold Coast airport expansion

The Greens have expressed shock and called for a transparent and public inquiry regarding the approval of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Gold Coast Airport.

Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, said: “I am concerned to see that a runway extension has been written into the lease granted to the airport for the NSW Crown Reserve at West Tweed.

“This lease was signed between the Government and the airport without public consultation and I stand with the community in asking for the protection of public land for recreation and environmental conservation, not given away on our behalf to private interests.”

Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, said: “The approval of the Instrument Landing System (ILS ) by the federal government is a sleight of hand that will impact dramatically on protection of NSW crown land and the wellbeing of many people in the Tweed and the Gold Coast. This process is one of deception.

“The installation of an ILS is an act of subterfuge that is all about the twice defeated plans for a runway extension. The airport wants to extend the runway to allow larger and louder aircraft such as the Airbus A340 to fly over the Tweed.

“The increased aircraft traffic will come at the cost of precious public lands, including the significant Cobaki wetlands with salt marsh and fish breeding habitat destroyed. The Crown Land is reserved for ‘public recreation’ not private interest.

“I have asked questions in Parliament about how the privately owned Gold Coast Airport gained access to the lease rights over NSW Crown Land.

“The extension proposal had twice been rejected because of the impact on the Crown Land which will include wholesale clearing of public land and protected vegetation and habitat. But with the approval for the ILS by the federal government, no state laws apply and no further approval is needed by the state Minister for Crown Lands, Niall Blair.

“The NSW Government has not revealed the date of the transfer of the land to enable the airport to make the application to the Commonwealth. Concerns have been raised as to whether the lease was valid at the time of its approval. The NSW Government passed laws that allowed inconsistent land uses to be validated but it appears the lease was given one month before the legislation was introduced to Parliament.

“Local residents including the Tweed Heads Residents and Ratepayers Association are demanding an inquiry into how this public land could be transferred to a private entity to be destroyed.

“I will take concerns of the community and the Richmond Greens candidate to the Parliament and will ask further questions and present a proposal for an inquiry. It may also be that this is not an isolated issue and that needs to be investigated. The public has a right to know that public land is being managed in the public interest, not to enrich private interests,” concluded Ms Barham.

For comment:
Jan Barham MLC 0447853891
Dawn Walker, Greens federal candidate for Richmond 0411 404 588

See attachment for background information.

Labor’s Lot 490 proposal shows outrageous disregard for Aboriginal land claim

The Labor Party has undermined Aboriginal Land Rights in the Tweed by introducing legislation that would affect a land claim, says North Coast Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands, Jan Barham MLC.

Ms Barham’s comments follow the introduction into NSW Parliament by Labor’s Walt Secord MLC of a Bill that would reserve Lot 490 as a regional park.

“This significant and environmentally sensitive area is currently protected from development by Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council’s land claim, which is one of thousands across the state waiting to be finalised. The legislation introduced by NSW Labor shows no regard for the importance of that claim,” Ms Barham said.

“Any announcement on the end use of the land is premature, and it undermines the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to provide self-determination and compensation for the traditional owners and custodians of the land.

“A recent public land forum I hosted in the Tweed heard from Tweed Byron Land Council’s Leweena Williams and local conservationists about the ecological significance of Lot 490.

“It’s important to note that Aboriginal land claims can include conditions such as easements for public access to areas such as the beach. Once a land claim is granted, the Government can also negotiate for the reservation or dedication of lands for the purpose of nature conservation.

“Labor has disregarded the fundamental importance of Aboriginal land rights and the need for self-determination and negotiation with the Aboriginal community. This Bill mustn’t proceed until the land claim has been determined, and I call on the Government to ensure the claim is resolved as quickly as possible.

“I have continued to press the Government to clear the backlog of unresolved Aboriginal land claims. The Greens strongly support Aboriginal land rights and the need to prioritise Aboriginal communities’ ownership and custodianship of land.”

Ms Barham noted that Lot 490 had a long history of being earmarked for development by both local and state governments and called for the importance of both the Aboriginal land claim and the environmental and cultural values of the site to be respected.

“The Greens recognise the strong community support for ensuring the land is protected from inappropriate private development and we know how important it is that the area’s threatened species and biodiversity are protected.

“It was Labor’s Tony Kelly who removed Tweed Shire Council as trustees of the Crown reserve in 2004 and then proposed leasing the site for a major development by Leighton Holdings, which thankfully fell through.

“For Labor to claim that they are the environmental protectors of the Tweed defies belief, and for them to undermine Aboriginal land rights in the process is disgraceful,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Holiday letting comes under NSW Parliament scrutiny

The Greens’ Tourism and North Coast spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has welcomed a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into holiday letting and is encouraging local residents to make submissions.

“It’s an important move that the State Parliament will be conducting an inquiry into the use of properties for short term tourism use, including the short term holiday letting of residential premises,” Ms Barham said.

“The contentious issue of holiday letting has had many impacts on North Coast communities, and despite the lack of planning approval it has continued to flourish. Without approval and regulation, the short term holiday letting of residential premises doesn’t pay its way but adds to the impacts and costs to council, as well as depriving approved tourism accommodation providers of business.

“Other issues that may come to light through this inquiry into holiday letting are the possibilities for tax evasion, and that property owners may be claiming negative gearing and a capital gains tax discount while effectively running commercial businesses,” said Ms Barham.

“The inquiry will also examine the situation with online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, and regulatory issues around the ‘sharing economy’ model of accommodation for travellers. While these platforms offer some great benefits for home-owners to be able to earn income when their property is under-occupied and for travellers to experience a local connection to the community they’re visiting, it has become clear that the use has extended to the permanent rental of whole premises for tourism in some areas. This aspect of online accommodation services may lead to impacts for neighbours as well as the regulated tourism industry providers. The lack of approval creates an uneven playing field within the industry and also a lack of compliance with industry standards relating to safety, insurance and other regulatory issues.

Ms Barham noted that in Byron and Tweed Shires it is estimated that there are nearly 2000 residential properties being used for short term tourism, which equates to up to 5000 residents who aren’t able to be housed in the local area.

“For more than a decade the unregulated use of residential properties has caused negative impacts in Byron Shire for residents, including noise and antisocial behaviour. It has also had a major effect on the availability and affordability of housing. It makes a mockery of strategic planning that defines residential and commercial zones and the impacts on infrastructure. The use of holiday let brings additional visitors to the shire, and particularly in Byron Bay it adds to the traffic issues. Residents have suffered for too long, missing out on neighbours and a sense of community. For those seeking rental properties in the area, it has reduced the available stock, contributing to this being one of the most unavailable and unaffordable regional areas in NSW. Importantly for those who stay in these properties, there could also be serious issues if there was an accident or injury as insurance doesn’t cover unapproved uses,” Ms Barham said.

“In the Tweed Shire, the council staff report identified that the use of 900 residential dwellings for short term premises is a prohibited use in residential zones, but the council resolved to allow the use. The NSW Law Society and court decisions have also defined that the unregulated use of dwellings is a prohibited use.”

The Legislative Assembly inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW will receive submissions until the 9th November.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

BACKGROUND:

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING

Terms of reference for an inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW

That the Committee inquire into and report on the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW, with particular reference to:
a) The current situation in NSW and comparison with other jurisdictions
b) The differences between traditional accommodation providers and online platforms
c) The growth of short-term and online letting, and the changing character of the market
d) The economic impacts of short-term letting on local and the state economies
e) Regulatory issues posed by short-term letting including customer safety, land use
planning and neighbourhood amenity, and licensing and taxation
f) Any other related matters.

Brunswick Heads forum hears Public Lands are at risk

A community forum held in Brunswick Heads last week heard from a range of community representatives who highlighted how the mismanagement of public lands is at a desperate point that hasn’t been experienced for over 20 years, says Jan Barham, the North Coast Greens MP who hosted the event. Ballina MP Tamara Smith and Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson also took part in the meeting.

“It was shocking to hear from the representatives about the lack of community consultation and protection of our social, natural and economic environment. The meeting unanimously supported a call for a Parliamentary inquiry to review the current mismanagement of public lands,” Ms Barham said.

The forum heard presentations about coastal management, biodiversity, forests, Brunswick caravan parks and foreshores and Aboriginal land claims.

John Corkill, a former Coastal Council member outlined the state of play in relation to coastal protection and identified the lack of community input to the Byron Shire Councils move to build a rockwall at Belongil and called for the Government to intervene to prevent the works.

“Coastal crown lands are a priceless public recreational resource and they play host to many ecologically and economically important species, but the wrong policy settings for managing them in the face of climate change, by Government and local councils, can reduce their chances of survival, and adversely affect community use of these vital public open spaces,” said Mr Corkill.

Respected local ecologist, David Milledge, informed the meeting of the biodiversity value of the north coast and how current forestry practices are putting the survival of some species at risk, including devastating images of poor logging practices. Mr Milledge outlined the role of State Forests to protect biodiversity conservation under the Comprehensive Regional Agreements that were established 10 years ago designed to regulate the logging practices to protect soil, water and threatened species but are failing. State Forests provide crucial refugia for biodiversity, supporting core populations and in many cases linking to the protected National Parks and Nature Reserves on the north coast.

“The State Government’s rules designed to manage the unique values of our public forests are not being applied and have been virtually abandoned. Poor logging practices have meant a loss of biodiversity that includes, loss of habitat for hollow-dependent threatened species and prey species of apex predators and a loss of riparian species requiring stream buffers. It’s essential that a landscape approach to forestry management must incorporate independent pre-logging assessments and exclusion zones based on Threatened species models and post logging burning must be abandoned” said David Milledge.

North East Forest Alliance member Dailan Pugh acknowledged a major concern that the contracts issued 10 years ago overestimated wood supply and that the failure to enforce the regulations for environmental management has been a desperate attempt to deliver wood supply. He also showed dramatic images of poor logging practices that have resulted in the landscape devastation of Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) which is impacting not only on the State Forests but also on the protected reserve system.

“As sawlogs are being cut out due to intentional overlogging, our public forests are coming under increasing threat by those wanting to open up national parks for logging, grazing and shooting, and those wanting to clearfell State forests to feed them into furnaces to generate electricity under the pretense it is renewable energy” said Dailan Pugh.

“The State Government has not acted as a responsible land manager in responding to the breaches of forestry practices that have been brought to their attention by NEFA and their independent audits. The EPA has done little to protect the public lands even when evidence was provided. It is devastating that the loss of biodiversity is not regarded as a high priority and that the Forestry Commission operates as a rogue element due to the government’s negligence” said Jan Barham MLC.

The presentations regarding the mismanagement of Brunswick caravan parks and foreshores is a long running issue and now the dredging of the harbour has outraged the community. The meeting called for the return of the management of Brunswick Heads public lands to Byron Shire Council so it can comply with the adopted Brunwick Estuary and Tourism Management Plans and ensure the character of the low key seaside village is retained.

Brunswick Head Progress Association president, Leonie Bolt, outlined that the community did not support the current harbour and foreshore works.

“A Brunswick community meeting adopted a resolution that calls on the NSW Government to suspend the Plans of Management pending a review and investigation into the process of their preparation. The lack of regard for the community views puts at risk the character and future enjoyment of the Brunswick Heads village for residents and visitors. The dredging of the harbour has proceeded without the appropriate consultation with Aboriginal representative and has not clarified the long term management issues” said Ms Bolt.

“The lack of respect for Aboriginal people by not consulting about the Brunswick Heads river works is a disgrace. Additional disturbing issues about the impact of the dredging of the Brunswick harbour and river relating to the disturbance and disposal of contaminated sands on our beaches and the risks for the natural environment add to the litany of concerns about the mismanagement of public lands and justify the call for an inquiry” said Ms Barham.

Next week a forum in the Tweed will hear from representatives concerned about the transfer of a public reserve to Gold Coast airport and the potential destruction of key habitat that will impact on the fisheries of the Cobaki with the proposed airport extension. The resolution of outstanding Aboriginal land claims on the coast and the lack of care for Tweed biodiversity will also be presented.

South Tweed Community Centre – 10am, Saturday 29th August

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Save Byron’s Beaches

Byron Councils support for construction of a rockwall at Belongil Beach will increase erosion, reduce public safety and amenity, affect the tourism industry and set a terrible precedent for the NSW coastline. Tamara Smith MP, the Member for Ballina, Byron’s Greens councillors and I are working with our community to oppose it. You can help us.

Save Byron's Beaches sticker

Click here to request stickers and show your support.

We’re collecting signatures on petitions to be tabled in both houses of Parliament. Download them, collect signatures and send them in:

Watch my speech on the history of Byron Bay’s coastal management, delivered on Thursday 4th June in the NSW Legislative Council:

Tweed Crown Land at risk from potential Gold Coast Airport expansion

North Coast Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson Jan Barham has raised concerns about the transfer of a Tweed Crown Reserve that appears to be left with inadequate safeguards against destruction to allow an extension of the Gold Coast Airport runway.

“I’ve asked several questions in Parliament during the past week regarding a NSW Crown Reserve that has been transferred to Gold Coast Airport,” Ms Barham said.

“I’m concerned that the NSW Government has exposed the land to inadequate protection from the impact of development work at the site, including the possible extension of the runway.

“Last week when the Minister for Lands answered my question about the lack of consultation and safeguards before the lease was transferred, he referred to the current public consultation about the proposed installation of an Instrument Landing System and said there would be a subsequent approval process.

“But the airport’s own Preliminary Draft Major Development Plan makes clear that the approval process only relates to work being undertaken on the Commonwealth airport land, not the NSW Crown Reserve.

“This week I asked whether there will be any environmental planning and approval process for any work being conducted on the NSW Crown land, but the Minister wasn’t able to provide any assurance.

Ms Barham warned that the transfer of the Crown Reserve appeared to be part of an overall plan by the airport for extension of the runway that would involve the clearing of significant lands.

“It appears that the Minister is unaware of the plans of the airport to seek an extension of the runway that would involve the destruction of important ecological areas and impact on residents’ amenity,” Ms Barham said.

“In November 2013, Gold Coast Airport wrote to the then Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and stated that ‘In the longer term, the securing of the additional land area for the airport will enable construction of an extension to the runway.’

“The community should be very concerned that the current proposal opens the door for the airport to carry out major work toward a runway extension and airport expansion, without adequate NSW Government oversight of environmental protection and development approval on Crown land,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

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