Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Debnam rides roughshod over wilderness

“Last week, Peter Debman announced a political deal with bush user groups that could end wilderness protection in NSW (Libs/Nats sign MOU, Debnam media release, 20 Nov).  The Coalition is so desperate to win that they have thrown out a core environmental principle, protection of wilderness, and hope in doing so to secure a political benefit”, revealed Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The Coalition’s risky strategy assumes that swinging voters in key seats are not wilderness supporters, but rather hard core horse riders or off road vehicle owners who want to drive or ride in these areas.  As most park users are content and support wilderness protection, this strategy is based on a losing set of possibilities”, Mr Muir said.

“Mr Debnam’s so-called historic agreement with bush user groups seeks to put visitor use before nature conservation in national parks, nature reserves and wilderness areas. Within three months of gaining office, Mr Debnam says he will write legislation that would in effect extinguish wilderness and convert nature reserves into recreation areas”, Mr Muir said.

“But the Coalition goes further than that. In the case of the Kosciuszko and Guy Fawkes parks, Debnam and the leader of the National Party Andrew Stoner, want turn these two parks into equestrian ranches of some sort, where feral horses can roam, and be recognised as a key cultural value.  These important national parks, when managed as horse farms, would be ruined for nature conservation in no time”, said Mr Muir.

“Getting rid of wilderness, will mean fragmenting the very last areas of intact bushland we have left.  Once they are gone, there will be no sanctuary, either for nature or humanity, from the spoiling forces of this high-tech world of ours”, warned Mr Muir.

If Mr Debnam gains office in March, he will find, after all the bluff and bluster, that his bush user supporters received more than fair go in the wilderness assessment and public review processes over the last decade or so.  He will also find that he must work with conservationists everyday; and they will go on fighting for wilderness and stopping his destruction of it every single day during the term of his office,” Mr Muir said.

 For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)