NSW is now the only state in Australia without an environment department after Premier Berejiklian announced she will scrap the Office of Environment and Heritage as one of the first acts of her newly-elected government.
Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra Ryan Park says people cannot trust the Liberals and Nationals to care for the environment in NSW.
The NSW Labor Opposition has described the decision by Premier Berejiklian to axe the Office of the Environment as an act of betrayal to the state’s eight million residents that threatens the health of our rivers, oceans, animals, plants and people.
The change will mean that for the first time in many decades there will no longer be a dedicated state government agency looking after the state’s natural and built environment. Responsibilities previously undertaken by the OEH will be subsumed into a larger Department of Planning and Industry.
Mr Park says this move brings into question the ability of the Office of Environment to provide frank and fearless independent advice on the management of the environment in NSW.
Mr Park says managing the environment in NSW is an enormous job and cannot be done responsibly from the back offices of the Department of Planning and Industry.
Quotes attributable to Mr Park:
“This is a shocking move by the Premier that further disempowers the Office of Environment and reduces it to little more than a back office function supporting planning and development.”
“Here in the Illawarra we have a deep connection to the natural environment through the coastal landscape and the rich forests along the Illawarra Escarpment. This announcement is bad news for our community and our precious environment.”
“The Premier has made herself very clear in terms of how little importance she places on the protection of the natural environment, our water, our national parks and our threatened species.”
“The environment cannot afford another setback and this move demonstrates that Premier Berejiklian is not committed to properly look after our land, our air, our water and the animals and plants that live in it.”