A REPORT has shown about 70 per cent of respondents oppose the more ‘relaxed’ NSW Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms - but broad consultation and detailed feedback should trump seemingly impressive numbers.
That’s the view of NSW Farmers Association’s Mitchell Clapham after seeing the NSW government’s report on submissions made into the more draft package, released on Tuesday.
The association's conservation and resource management committee chairman said he was “not surprised at all by these statistics” and it was “very easy to read one side of an emotive story and tick the box and make a submission”.
The government released the draft package of land management and biodioversity reforms in May, and opened it to public submissions until the end of June.
The submissions report says 7166 people and groups had their say - and the Stand Up For Nature alliance of conservation groups’ responses opposing the package accounted for more than 5350 of them.
But Mr Clapham pointed out that more than 5000 of those submissions had been individuals doing a “click and submit” through the Stand Up For Nature website.
“I think the important thing from our perspective as farmers is we didn’t just do a click-and-submit; we had an annual conference in Sydney and had 240 delegates representing their regions, and those 240 delegate voted unanimously for our amendments to the proposed draft.
“It was a fairly definitive gauge of the temperature out there in the rural communities that are impacted by this restrictive act that we currently have.”
Nature Conservation Council communications manager James Tremain said that, in fact, the number of detailed submissions from wildlife, environmental and scientific bodies was about the same as the number from farming interest groups.
As for the online individual submissions, Mr Tremain said he thought the report had unfairly singled them out. They were even excluded from a second pie chart showing the breakdown of feedback groups.
“It was a bit troubling, actually, to read that report and to see the way they somehow regarded those legitimate views of citizens... as somehow less valid than other forms of expression,” Mr Tremain said.
He said the conservation alliance still believed “the vast majority of farmers do the right thing”.
“Laws are only ever there to control a handful of wrongdoers”.
NSW Farmers has made 25 recommendations for amendments within the framework of the current proposals.