Reading the fine print
It sounds too good to be true, a $257million increase in funding for NSW Parks over three years, which includes funding for the Light to Light project. Then you hear the back story and read the fine print...
The NSW government cut $121million from NSW national parks in 2016-17 and according to the NSW Public Service Association that resulted in about 100 ranger jobs being lost. Then, in 2017-18 the NSW government cut a further $80million from the department that oversees parks. All while visitation demand on national parks continues to increase.
In recent years, NSW government ministers, in conjunction with well funded and well connected developers, have come up with a range of pet projects for ordinary taxpayers to fund. These projects, including the Light to Light Walk, are aimed at the top end of the tourism market and have been formulated in the corporate towers of the capital cities. They contribute very little to the real function of a national park and usually very little to the local economy. They do contribute to the wealth of big business, their shareholders and to the pleasure of those who can afford it.
This project bears a concerning similarity to the Three Capes Walk in Tasmania that cost ordinary taxpayers $40million and was leased back to private enterprise for $50,000 per year. The private business was also granted an exclusive 30 year contract - a great deal for the developer, but a raw deal for ordinary Australians who are the custodians of our national parks.
The proposed huts (micro villages) on the Light to Light Walk will degrade the rugged wilderness value of Ben Boyd National Park and they will remove the sense of 'remoteness' that the venture ironically promotes. They will also have other environmental impacts that will need to be managed.
Australia has one of the worst environmental records in terms of animal extinctions and Ben Boyd is home to many vulnerable species. So why are ordinary taxpayers funding exclusive "Walks for the Wealthy"?
Our taxes should be directed to the primary function of our national parks - to protect vulnerable ecosystems - particularly after recent devastating bushfires.
Mick Ripon, Sale, Victoria
Eligible for assistance
Driving around town I just couldn't help notice how many homes were affected by last year's bushfires. Blackened walls, dirty sooty roofs, dirty windows and sills, and I wondered to myself did those owners who were insured realise they could claim for this damage from their insurance companies?
You can you know. I didn't know either until I was told by a caring neighbour. My roof was blackened and I thought no more about it before he told me. I made an inquiry with my insurance company and voila...I found I was entitled to compensation, which was in my case a thorough roof, gutter and window sill clean.
The reason I write is to let you know that you too may be eligible for such compensation. I know I will be verboten with the insurance companies but what the hell, that's why we are insured. Hope this helps.
Tony Allison, Eden
Zero duty of care
When the next catastrophic wildfire comes through our battered, overlogged, burnt and unrecovered forests, I will hold responsible the planning section and the four councillors of BVSC who recommended this DA, as well as the logging company and the owners of the Eden Chipmill, and NSW State Forests, for their negligence and zero duty of care in not considering the consequences of this decision.
Thank you to those who wrote and spoke clearly about those consequences and the necessity to always consider the entire ecology. There were more than 150 submissions to the original DA and only one was in support, all others were against.