Environment: Populist NSW  

EVERY time we walk the dogs on our favourite south coast beach we carry a supermarket give-away plastic bag and pick up a couple of kilos of rubbish either left by sloppy visitors or thrown up by the sea.  We then drop it in a council bin behind the beach. Two things threaten this: one, the move to deny the supply of the bags we use to carry the junk, and two, council’s habit of removing the bins during the winter months to save the expense of emptying them.

Silly, narrow policies, just like two other current “initiatives” by our increasingly-populist NSW government aimed at shoring up some noisy segment of its hoped-for political support base. First, the current underprepared drink container deposit scheme. If you’ve got beer or soft drink bottles or cans in good condition, you can try and find a recycling centre or store willing to refund 10 cents a container by way of some sort of credit. Or, you can just wear the increased cost of your favourite beverage and continue to put the containers in your yellow council bin for fortnightly free pick up. Which I intend to do…along with any damaged containers I pick up plus wine bottles and several other varieties of bottles…which the scheme doesn’t cover.

There’s a second reason that would keep me doing this, even if there was a reverse vending machine on the corner. The yellow bin pick-up service has worked just fine for years. Recycling companies get a stream of glass and metal which makes it worth their while to provide the service, and earlier NSW and Commonwealth government reviews suggested that if that stream was disrupted, the yellow bin economics may no longer stack up. But our NSW government can say to their armchair environmentalists…we’ve finally got a bottle bill.

That’s a long intro into consideration of the proposed Hawkesbury Shelf Bio-region marine national park, which the same NSW government is currently supporting through funding of an interminable, expensive, divisive consultation process. For what, exactly? So that a group of Sydney residents can say “we’ve got our own marine park?”

Go back in history twenty years or so when Bob Carr’s Labor government decided the state needed an integrated system of marine protected areas. The respective Minsters for Fisheries and National Parks were not fond of each other, to put it mildly, and both their agencies believed they should drive the process, so in a Solomon-like decision they got joint accountability for setting up the system, based on cutting the state vertically into bioregional segments and then designing and implementing marine park boundaries and zones. It went pretty well, given all the vested interests that needed to be appeased. But it was considered then that Sydney didn’t require it’s “own” park. The marine conservation needs, as assessed by both Fisheries and National Parks scientific staff, would be met through the parks based out of Port Stephens and Jervis Bay.

Sydney and the Hawkesbury area already have an albeit confusing set of small marine protected areas administered by DPI / Fisheries and some local councils, all with their own odd rules. Bringing them into line with each other might make sense, but if there is some new, convincing conservation rather than political argument for a big, new marine park for this heavily populated, multi-user metropolis, we at Fisho haven’t seen it.


What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.