The Coastwatchers Association Incorporated is the leading community environmental and conservation group serving the South Coast of NSW, principally in the Shire of Eurobodalla between Narooma and Batemans Bay.
Welcome to our website. We aim to provide information and resources in this website such that it can be used as a significant community resource. We welcome comments or suggested improvements (click the envelope icon on the right to email).
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The Native Vegetation act 2003 was replaced on August 25th 2017 and current legislation governing the clearing of native vegetation is the Local Land Services Act 2013 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Eurobodalla Council has signed a landmark 10-year agreement to source the bulk of its energy from renewables from July. Electricity generated by solar farms at Parkes and Griffith, and from wind farms in the New England area due to come online in 2024, will supply 80 per cent of Council’s total electricity load for larger energy use sites, like the Moruya admin building, pools, libraries, water and sewer pump stations, treatment plants and our streetlights.
The Dargues Gold Mine (often called the Dargues Reef Gold Mine) is situated in Majors Creek above the Araluen Valley, at the headwaters of the Araluen Creek, which runs into the Deua River, the water supply for much of the Eurobodalla Shire.
Coastwatchers has been involved in various ways with the Dargues Gold project since 2010. Though the mine was finally approved and built, cyanide processing of the ore is not carried out on site; instead the ore is trucked away for processing.
Details of some of Coastwatchers’ involvement appears below. Much information can be found at the NSW Government’s Major Projects website; you can click through to their Dargues Gold Project page here.
The information below was copied from the website of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (of which Coastwatchers is a member).
Forestry Corporation NSW is planning to restart logging in South Coast native forests in the coming weeks.
Following the Black Summer bushfires, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) restricted logging on the South Coast to give the fragile burnt forests and wildlife a chance to recover.
The EPA says that recovery could take over 100 years in some forests, so that tree hollows can form and threatened species populations can recover.
But Forestry Corp is now saying it will ignore the EPA’s concerns and it plans to start logging on the South Coast again.
This is a reprehensible move that puts threatened species like the greater glider at threat.
Forestry Corporation also plans to log areas which were unburnt or only lightly burnt during the fires. Areas which survived largely intact are refuges for animals that were displaced due to extensive burning in surrounding forests. They have nowhere else to go.
Authors: Charles Victor Barber, World Resources Institute; Rachael Petersen, Earthrise Services; Virginia Young, Australian Rainforest Conservation Society; Brendan Mackey, Griffith University, Cyril Kormos, Wild Heritage.
The climate change and biodiversity crises that the world faces are closely intertwined – and they cannot be seen in isolation of a pandemic causing a global “vulnerability experience of mankind”. The economic impacts of the pandemic will be severe. Stimulus packages are therefore indispensable – but they need to be based on sustainability and climate action to increase the resilience of our societies.
The economic crisis offers the opportunity to refocus on sustainable transformation and to develop long-term improvements to our economic, social and political systems. Otherwise, any stimulus will prove to be ineffective in the mid- and long-term, and propel the next global crisis. Be it due to immense environmental pollution, massive degradation of biodiversity leading to grave impacts on global food production, water shortages, energy cries, extreme weather events or everything combined.
In addition to the critical reduction of GHG emissions by moving away from fossil fuels, “nature-based solutions” to emissions reductions in forest and land use, and in the ocean – are crucial. If action on climate change explicity and systematically takes biodiversity conservation into account, we can generate synergies and positive feedback loops, with respect to generating political will, mobilizing financial and technical resources, and taking action on the ground. Too often, however, biodiversity and climate change are dealt with in relative isolation, including in how governments and other stakeholders organize themselves to act on these two inextricably-linked issues.
This report contains clear policy recommendations for governments to develop effective solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss that are mutually supportive. While the report and its recommendations are tailored to negotiations at COP-15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26), it also makes important recommendations to the G-20, bearing in mind that actions by these 20 countries will set the bar for success.
Making the Water-Energy-Food-Health Nexus and the Climate and Biodiversity Nexus an integral part of the G20 agenda is key. Tovernments should incorporate investments related to these nexus areas in their recovery plans, including sharing best practices and cooperating in international research, especially with regard to the COVID-19 recovery plans. We hope that our list of recommendations in this report can help make recovery plans stronger, and the global approach to the crises we are facing more successful.
You can view (opens in a new tab) or download a PDF version of the report below (60 pages; 7.9MB).
Gilmore Electorate Communities Environment Program 2019-20
For the year 2020 the Commonwealth Government granted $2,800 through the Gilmore Electorate to The Coastwatchers Association Inc (matched in-kind by Coastwatchers) under the Communities Environment Program.
The purpose of the grant was identification of koala habitat with a view to future koala population revival or reintroduction. The grant enabled ten close-scale plot surveys to ground-truth wider-scale modelling of potential koala habitat in the forested patch between Wamban and Nerrigundah.
The project was carried out by the volunteer Eurobodalla Koala Project in its role as a local citizen science movement.
In summary, the project concluded the potential of the patch to offer suitable habitat for low-density koala revival was confirmed, but with significant caveats in respect of historical clearing, topography, soil fertility and possible future disturbance. The key lessons for the future environmental management of this patch are the maintenance of its landscape-scale connectivity to other habitat patches, and avoidance of further disturbance through increased frequency and intensity of wildfire, urban development or over-intensive agricultural-industry.
You can view or download a pdf version of the report via the link below (81 pages, 5.7MB.
It is really sad to hear this coming from the Mayor of our council.
Our recently amended environmental regulations in NSW are already quite relaxed and have resulted in a 13 fold increase in land clearing.
lt is very rare that developments are blocked or significantly slowed because of these regulations. And if they are slowed or blocked, it is because there is a real risk that threatened species and their habitat are likely to be significantly impacted and thus some mitigation is required to protect them.
Suggesting that we remove these biodiversity safeguards (referred to as ‘biodiversity constraints’ by the Mayor), in the wake of the worst ecological disaster the region has experienced, is both negligent and short-sighted.
We need to consider the impacts of our developments now more than ever, particularly because there has already been a rush to illegally clear land around houses after the fires. People are taking liberties with land clearing because of the “smoke screen” of the fires.
We need to be more diligent with our environmental compliance now, than ever before.
We also need to give our native species the best chance they have to recover. And this is most important at the urban/bushland interface. Burnt areas are not ‘effectively cleared’ as the Mayor claims, they have the potential to recover, as evidenced by what we see around us now, and will once again provide important wildlife habitat.
Furthermore, suggesting that we do not rebuild to current bushfire management standards will only leave the land owner at risk when the next bushfire occurs.
Bushfire management standards are there to try and mitigate the risks of bushfires impacting properties and people. We need to build more defendable and fire resistant homes if we want to live in one of the most beautiful but fireprone regions of the world.
I understand that these “constraints” can be costly to recovering land owners. So instead of rewriting the laws, causing further impacts to the environment and ignoring the risk of future fires, why doesn’t the Mayor ask the government to provide grants to landowners looking to rebuild to a higher level of bushfire protection. Grants to help pay for the relevant consultants reports and counciI fees.
Or provide additional resources to local councils and government departments to help speed up the processing of development applications. There are plenty of better solutions than simply switching off the only piece of legislation that protects our wildlife.
Reina Hill President the Coastwatchers Association Inc.
25 June Coastwatchers is a signatory to a letter to Nippon Paper organised by Rainforest Action Group. A petition is also now live. One of the signatories to the letter organized a letter delivery and secured some local press. Also see press releases issued by TWS and RAN.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s key piece of environmental legislation which commenced July 16th 2000.
The EPBC Act enables the Australian Government to join with the states and territories in providing a truly national scheme of environment and heritage protection and biodiversity conservation. The EPBC Act focuses Australian Government interests on protection matters of national environmental significance, with the states and territories having responsibility for matters of state and local significance.
The Australian Government Department of the Environment administers the EPBC Act.
The second independent review of the EPBC Act commenced in October 2019, led by Professor Graeme Samuel AC, supported by a panel of experts. A report will be presented to the Minister for the Environment within 12 months of commencement of the review.
The information below was sent by the Nature Coast Marine Group regarding the abolition of sanctuary zones in the Batemans Marine Park without scientific assessment or public consultation and even without consulting the Batemans Marine Park Advisory Committee. Click through to their website to sign a petition to Save our Sanctuaries, to join the group, or simply to subscribe to their emails (Membership Page) in order to be kept up-to-date on the issue.
The NSW Government is scrapping sanctuary zones in the Batemans Marine Park We have been struggling during this year to head off a push from local member Andrew Constance to get rid of a number of sanctuary zones in the marine park. Unfortunately the worst has now come to pass. Agriculture Minister Marshall put out a media release on Thursday 12 December in which he announced that recreational fishing will henceforth be permitted in sanctuary zones at Montague Island (2 sites), Wagonga Inlet (2 sites), Brou Lake and Nangudga Lake. The decision is even worse than we feared because these changes will take place immediately under an “amnesty” system, before any consultation with the community.
There are good reasons why these sanctuary zones exist. They allow for protection of biodiversity in the wide variety of habitats in the marine park, they promote conditions for the flourishing of marine flora and fauna and protect threatened species, including grey nurse sharks, black rockcod, shorebirds and seagrasses. All these values will now be undermined.
By contrast, there are no good reasons for the changes that have been announced. There has been no process of scientific assessment. No scientific justification has been put forward for the changes, which in addition undermine the integrity of the zones as scientific reference areas.
The process is deeply disheartening. The legislation requires that changes be open for public consultation for a period of at least two months, but with the decision already made, what hope can anyone have that that the consultation will be genuine?
In addition, these cut backs to sanctuary zones have not been considered by the Batemans Marine Park Advisory Committee (on which we are represented) or any other forum representing the wider community.
We are particularly disappointed because we met with staff from the offices of both Agriculture Minister Marshall and Environment Minister Kean in the past couple of months to express concern about the Constance proposals. Mr Marshall subsequently wrote to us to say that “any proposed change to sanctuary zones would need to be subject to public consultation for a minimum of two months as required by legislation”.
Looking forward we have to be concerned because Andrew Constance has foreshadowed a ‘step by step’ approach that would see the dismantling of further sanctuary zone protections. The prospect is for a marine park that would be there on the map but not in reality – nothing but a “paper” park.
writes: I attended the last Dargues Reef CCC meeting on 30 September
as an observer, and since then my nomination has been formally
accepted so that I will be able to fully participate in the next CCC
meeting to be held on 16 December. I hope I will be able to do
Coastwatchers’ interests justice, as I have had relevant experience
in my past career in geology and environmental management in mining.
This experience includes developing and organising consultative
groups for the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining in
the Northern Territory, a nd implementing operational procedures for
the regulation of mining in Queensland, as well as environmental
auditing of mine sites.
September CCC meeting was almost entirely dedicated to noise;
presentations were made by the NSW EPA on regulatory requirements and
how monitoring is undertaken, and by the company and Majors Creek
residents on a number of issues which have arisen. Perhaps the most
significant issue is noise at night. Negotiations have focussed on
noise and vibration from blasting, and when ore processing operations
begin, crushing and truck movement timetables. Currently the local
community is pressing to have ore stockpiled underground at night,
with truck movements to the crusher limited to daylight hours.
short presentation was made to the company at this meeting about the
unplanned release of water on 17 September, when an incorrectly
graded slope related to construction of the tailings dam allowed
sediment-laden water to flow into Spring Creek. The data presented
related only to the timing and volume of water flow: flow before the
event was below 10 litres per second and peaked at 80 litres per
second; flow returned to less than 10 l/s on 20 September.
Representatives of NSW EPA visited the site on 17 September, water
samples were taken, and a diversion drain was constructed that day to
stop the flow of water into Spring Creek. Unfortunately no data was
presented at the CCC meeting or since regarding water quality and the
extent to which any effects may have extended downstream. I have been
pressing the chair of the CCC and the company for that information. I
was informed by the company on 21 November that a report on the
monitoring data has been drafted and will be uploaded to their
website once approved. I believe the company has met the regulatory
requirements for management of this unplanned release and subsequent
reporting, but that community expectations are not reflected in the
long time it is taking to report on water quality. I intend to pursue
this matter at the next CCC, and stress that monitoring data related
to unplanned water releases needs to be publicised fully and quickly
to all downstream stakeholders. Delays in releasing such information
can only perpetuate (or increase) negative opinions about the Dargues
of the environmental manager
The HSEC Manager (Health, Safety Environment & Community) has
recently resigned and his last day is 22 November. The position of
Senior Environmental Advisor
is still vacant.
Management Plan for the Operational Phase
operational phase of mining (open stope blasting, ore trucking, ore
processing to produce concentrate, and trucking concentrate off-site)
is planned to begin during the next 6 months. A Water Management Plan
is being drafted for the operational phase. I has been given an
assurance by NSW EPA that Coastwatchers will have the opportunity to
comment on the draft prior to it being finalised. Key issues for us
will relate to water quality monitoring, inclusion of parameters
relating to downstream water quality risks, and release of monitoring
presentation and project update
company held a public information forum in Majors Creek on the
evening of 18 November. Key points were:
of the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) is nearly complete and
placement of the High Density Polyethelyne (HDPE) liner is in
water bores have been installed into old mine workings (Snobs and
Stewart & Mertons), and one ‘Harvestable Rights Dam’ has
been built (these will allow the company to source water for mine
operations, and also to maintain water flow in Spring Creek).
underground mining operations began in September with over 2,000
metres of underground development completed. The first stope firing
will take place in the next 6 months.
of the processing plant is 80% complete; commissioning
is expected by the end of February, with transport of
concentrate to Port Kembla beginning in that month.
the next 6 months, more ‘Harvestable Rights Dams’ will be built
and tailings deposition into the TSF will begin.
slide presentation from the public information session is on the
Lake Brou is a beautiful coastal lake lying just 2.5 kms south-west of Potato Point near Bodalla on the NSW South Coast. It is part surrounded by Eurobodalla National Park to the north-east, east and south-east, and forms part of the Batemans Marine Park. The Coastal Lakes Inquiry undertaken by the NSW Healthy Rivers Commission in 2002 classified Lake Brou as a Significant Coastal Lake.
Unfortunately the forest on the lake’s
north-west edge is part of Bodalla State Forest (compartment 3004)
and at this stage is scheduled for logging late 2019.
is the Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Harvest Plan (current as of
variety of threatened species rely on these forests. As an example
the Swift Parrot uses NSW South Coast forests for winter-flowering
nectar trees on its annual migration from Tasmania. All State
Forests ( including the compartment under threat of logging) in
Eurobodalla Shire east of the Princes Highway form part of
to Merimbula Important Bird Area,
identified as such by BirdLife
of its importance for Swift
critical forests extend about 10 km inland from the coast and
include many other local forests currently being logged or planning
to be logged. The most important feed trees for these migratory birds
other flowering eucalypts.
Forests dominated by Ironbarks and
Bloodwoods which are likely to support the Parrots in years when the
Spotted Gums are not flowering are also vital.
Apart from threats to fauna and flora there is the increased risk of uncontrollable fire in the area due to large volumes of crown debris left drying out on the forest floor. Increasingly Forestry Corporation is experiencing difficulty finding time in the shortening annual windows for burning off all the “waste” on the forest floor that is being generated by all the logging operations. More and more logged forests are left to pose fire risks from arson or lightning strikes.
CoastWatchers urges all concerned
citizens to write to the local State member Andrew Constance, to
Forestry Corporation of NSW and to the Beagle, BayPost and Narooma
News demanding a moratorium on logging of all coastal State Forests
and in particular Bodalla State Forest adjoining Lake Brou…..too
precious to lose.
Batemans Bay High School Student Environment Council is busy preparing a Year 12 Wellbeing Native Garden. Beds have been prepared and Lilli Pillis planted. “Next step is planting natives in tubs and installing planter baskets on the wall” said teacher Kerryn Hopkins.
The garden will encourage local native birds to return to the school environment as well as providing an attractive gathering place for year 12 students. And the hands on work by the students improves their horticulture and ecological understanding.
Ms Hopkins thanked the Coastwatchers Environment Fund for sponsoring the project.
New connections were made and ‘light-bulb moments’ were plenty when nine high-school students spent the weekend of October 26th & 27th 2019 immersed in nature.
Held at Meringo Point Sanctuary, Eurobodalla Young Legends 2019 saw the students mentored by Angus Mitchell, Eva Davis-Boermans, Lily Berry and Pearl Mitchell – movers and shakers with environment-based careers who volunteered their time for the weekend. Developed by Eurobodalla Shire Council and sponsored by the Coastwatchers Environment Fund, the weekend program gets budding young environmentalists into the bush while they work through ideas and activities with their mentors.
Eurobodalla Council’s environmental education officer Bernadette Davis said Young Legends was about making a difference in the local community, and beyond.
“Our mentors aim to inspire young people, give them guidance, get them on board for upcoming projects, and help their efforts in making positive environmental change happen,” Ms Davis said.
“The students come away talking about the plans they have and the skills they’ve learnt to turn those plans into reality.”
The Young Legend students included Hayley Thelan, Hayden Loutitt, Karrisa Sydnham, Liarna Miller, Matt Goddard, Tess Poyner, Sarah Burnes, Damia O’Laughlin and Lily Ralston, and represented all of the shire’s high schools.
Over the weekend the Young Legends spent time spotlighting for greater gliders with Council’s natural resource officer Heidi Thomson, and became immersed in local ecosystems with botanist Lily Berry. Ms Davis said it was an opportunity to better understand the local environment and the importance of maintaining and protecting valuable natural assets.
“Other activities included a beach clean-up, learning how to use the Australian Marine Debris Initiatives database, and cyanotype sun printing with native plants,” Ms Davis said.
“We also had some fun, creating a video snapshot of the weekend. Keep an eye out for that on Council’s Facebook page in the near future.”
A biannual event, this is the second time the Young Legends event has run. To learn more about the program, contact Bernadette Davis on 4474 1037 or email@example.com
The Commission invites comment on the draft monitoring program for the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) from all interested parties. The NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Steering Committee is independently chaired by the Natural Resources Commission.
The Coastwatchers Association Incorporated submission to the NRC on the draft monitoring program for the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval appears below in pdf form.
Coastwatchers is a proud member of Climate Action Gilmore
Events this week
Accelerate Film 9 May, Kinema Narooma. The 3rd and final screening of the 350 Australia Accelerate will be held on Thursday 9 May at 6pm. This screening will be the full length 55 minute version followed by guest speakers and a Q&A. $15 and $10 concession
Letter boxing the scorecard. To help please contact Allan on 0417 400 892.
Climate Action Gilmore stall at Farmers Market Tuesday 3pm
Climate Action Gilmore stall at Moruya Markets Saturday morning.
Hands Across the Sand Saturday 11 May, 11am South Broulee Beach contact Chantell
Candidates Forum, Bateman’ Bay Soldiers Club, Tuesday 14 May 7.30-pm – 9pm. Flyer attached.
Climate Conundrum with Will Steffen as main speaker. 6.30pm, Thursday 16 May St Peter’s College Broulee.
Polling day Saturday 18 May. We need people to put up two flute board signs at polling booth at South Durrus, Nelligen and Malua Bay. Contact Kathryn Maxwell firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0467 558 645 if you can help.
Follow this link to Climate Action Gilmore’s video clip featuring the song ‘Now or Never’ written and performed by talented Y12 student Sam Fletcher. Share it with your friends and help us to spread it far and wide. It was filmed by local photographer Gillianne Tedder with 50+ local people who came to Russ Martin Park last Monday and has already been viewed over 1,600 times on 350 Eurobodalla Facebook page..
The second of 350Eurobodalla’s screenings of the film Accelerate was held at the Bateman’s Bay Soldiers Club Auditorium on Thursday 2 May. ( The evening also was the premiere of our new climate action video ‘Now or Never’ written and performed by talented Y12 student Sam Fletcher and filmed by local photographer Gillianne Tedder who provided a selection of photos for this post too.)
Excellent stall at the Narooma Oyster Festival. People appreciate the white board display of the Labor, Greens and Liberal/National climate policies.
Commenced letter boxing the scorecard in Moruya, Broulee, South Durras.
Climate Action Gilmore is a coalition of Eurobodalla 350, SHASA (Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance), Nature Coast Marine Group and The Coastwatchers Association Inc.
The Greens – Carmel McCallum
The Greens have a target of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and zero carbon emissions for Australia by 2040. The Greens want to end fossil fuel subsidies and ban all new coal mining and coal seam gas fracking. They will end broad scale land clearing and end logging of native forests. The Greens support vehicle emissions standards and electric charging stations. These initiatives will create 180,000 jobs.
Labor – Fiona Phillips
Labor has a target of 50% renewable electricity with a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030. Labor’s aim is zero emissions by 2050. Labor will put $10 billion into the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and $5 billion into upgrading infrastructure for renewable electricity. $2 billion for batteries for home solar. $100 million for solar for low income people. Aim for 50% new vehicles to be electric by 2030 and $200 million for charging stations. A “Renewable Energy Zone” across South Australia’s Spencer Gulf region to create up to 1,300 clean energy jobs. $1 billion for solar panels across schools. These initiatives will create 75,000 jobs.
Liberal Party – Warren Mundine
The Liberals have an emissions reduction target of 26-28% by 2030, but they are using old Kyoto credits to achieve this. they key policy, the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund has been cut from $200 million per year to $133 million per year. They plan to build Snowy 2.0 to provide pumped hydro storage. Liberals aim to have 25-50% of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, but they have run a scare campaign against Labor’s 50% target.
The Nationals – Katrina Hodgkinson
Katrina said she supports Coalition climate policies, but Nationals have no emissions reduction or renewable energy targets in their policy statements.
Independent – Grant Schultz
Grant said he will work in a bipartisan way to reach consensus on climate action.
United Australia Party – Milton Leslight
UAP has no targets for emissions reductions and is pro coal mining.
Authorised by Kathryn Maxwell, Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance, 3 Jeffery Place Moruya.
Doubts have been cast over the independence of a NSW marine park advisory body after a senior Liberal minister appeared to indicate to a meeting of recreational fishers he had influence over the make-up of the committeee.
at the top of the Corn Trail in Monga National Park near Braidwood,
NSW. Voting open through 2019. Voting will help the campaign to
protect quoll habitat being logged next to the Corn Trail near
Braidwood just an hour from Canberra.
October 2018 the photo won the British Natural History Museum,
Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Highly Commended Award in the
Animals in their Environment category.
federal election candidates forum Where: Club
Sapphire, 119 Main Street, Merimbula, 2548 When: Friday
22 February from 6-7.30pm Light
snacks provided and drinks available for purchase at the bar
Embassy Media Release
12 February 2019 with statements from the speakers at the National
Forest Uprising rally on 13 February outside Parliament House Prof
Don White, Chair of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW,
Robertson, National Forest Campaigner for the Wilderness Society and
Senator Janet Rice.
Bush – (22 mins
video) Take a behind the scenes look at Australia’s forests, the
people who work in them and the industry they support.
Dear Corn Trail supporters
There has been steady
media following publicity of the logging next to the Corn Trail.
Online links plus events and online actions to support the forests
events coming up this and next week.
film clips released by David Gallan
media links and attachments including a Greater Glider and Economics
Fact sheet by Dr Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe AM
for David Gallan’s spotted tailed quoll photo taken in Monga
National Park at the top of the Corn Trail.
the online petition to Stop Native Forest Logging by 2020.
Please let your friends
and family know about the National Forest Uprising Rally in Canberra
this week on a sitting week at noon. Speakers include Peter
Robertson, National Campaign Manager and veteran forest campaigner
from the Wilderness Society, Prof. Don White Chairperson Nature
Conservation Council NSW and Janet Rice Greens Senator. Friends of
the Forest (Mogo) and Braidwood people are attending with a Don’t Log
the Corn Trail presence. Organised by the Forest
Embassy based at Central Tilba.
VOTE FOR DAVID GALLAN’S SPOTTED TAILED QUOLL PHOTOGRAPH taken at the top of the Corn Trail in Monga National Park near Braidwood, NSW. Voting open through 2019. Voting will help the campaign to protect quoll habitat being logged next to the Corn Trail near Braidwood just an hour from Canberra. In October 2018 the photo won the British Natural History Museum, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Highly Commended Award in the Animals in their Environment category.
operators/owners of the Dargues Gold Mine, Diversified Minerals Pty
Ltd, will be holding a community information session to provide:
update on the current status of the project,
activities over the next 12 months.
project update will cover
members of the construction and management team.
be taken during the session, however discussions will be welcome
after the formal talk. The meeting will break for tea/coffee and
participants are encouraged to approach company members of the
construction and management team with questions.
Dargues Reef Community Consultative Committee
was discovered at Majors Creek in 1870. Mining commenced in 1871 and
lasted until 1890. It recommenced during the First World War from
1914 until 1916.
the Dargues Gold Mine at Majors Creek was again proposed in 2009.
Approval was granted in 2012, after an unsuccessful appeal to the
Land and Environment Court by Coastwatchers and others. Initial site
works were completed in late 2013, and the mine was then placed into
‘care and maintenance’, while further development approvals were
sought by Unity Mining Limited, including the on site processing of
the gold using cyanide.
a major campaign by local environmental groups (including
Coastwatchers) and the public, the miner removed the application for
the use of cyanide. Approval to mine was granted in 2016 by the NSW
Planning Assessment Commission. Unity Mining was then acquired by
Diversified Minerals Pty Ltd, a private company based in Orange NSW.
of surface infrastructure commenced in early 2017 and continues to
this day. Work on the mine proper commenced in May 2018, and will be
ongoing for some time. A cylindrical road will progress downwards to
a great depth, and all ore will be trucked to the top along this
ore will be semi processed in a processing plant, with construction
of this plant commencing in January 2019. The ore was to be then
finally processed into ingots at Parkes, but that was not approved.
The gold concentrate will now be shipped in containers to Port Kembla
and taken off shore for processing. This is years away and apparently
China has withdrawn agreement. The option of final processing at the
company’s Henty mine in Tasmania, may still be considered.
The Dargues Reef Community Consultative Committee was formed in 2011. It meets quarterly at Majors Creek and comprises an independent Chair, the miners, local government and members of the community. The CCC works well principally because the Chair is truly independent and highly professional. The Minister for Planning makes all committee appointments and the Chair is the only one remunerated.
miner is in the process of submitting a new amendment to the existing
approval (Modification 4). It is in 3 parts, two of which are
administrative, and one which theoretically impacts on ground work.
The first matter is that the miner has acquired an adjoining farm and that addition has to be added to their overall holdings specified in the existing DA. It may have been acquired to reduce noise complaints.
Secondly, the company structure of the Miner altered when Diversified Minerals Pty Ltd (unlisted) purchased Unity Mining Limited (was ASX listed- not now). A new company has been added to the mix called Dargues Gold Mine Pty Ltd, which is the operator of the project. This may present another legal impediment in the event of noise or other problems, particularly a massive spill into the Deua National Park and the Deua River.
The third issue involves the relocation of the proposed new vehicular crossing over Spring Creek, to remain at the existing creek cross over point. Spring Creek is the initial tributary of the Deua River. This appears to be preferable in all regards, especially environmental degradation, and may have been over-looked when Modification 3 was considered.
It is proposed that this new Modification 4 will be lodged with NSW Planning by 30 November 2018 and placed on public exhibition from 3 December for 2 weeks to 17 December 2018. The CCC next meets on 18 December. There has been strong objection to this timing, expressed with the opinion that it should be exhibited until the end of January 2019. It is not the substance of the modification proposed, but an abuse of the public scrutiny process, which includes the CCC.
26 November 2018
Our thanks to Richard Roberts, a Coastwatchers member and former Secretary, who is currently a member of the Dargues Reef Mine Community Consultative Committee.
Meeting – Rural Lands Strategy 18 November 2018
public meeting will be held on Sunday 18th
November at 2pm at Captain Oldrey Park, Broulee to raise awareness
and engage with the community about the effects of the proposed Rural
Lands Strategy (RLS). This meeting follows on from that held at
Mossy point and the recent meeting at Mogo which was facilitated by
the shadow Minister for Primary Industries Mick Veitch and the ALP
candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson. The Eurobodalla Shire is pushing
on with its contentious RLS with Mayor Liz Innes repeatedly assuring
residents that “it’s a done deal” and no further action from the
Public will make any difference. In fact the changes require sign
off by the NSW Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts and with a state
election coming up in March there is plenty that can be done.
concerned about the nature of development in our shire are welcome to
come along to this public meeting. Speakers, community group stalls
and maps on display will help the public identify the areas concerned
and what’s being proposed.
a nut shell – the proposal will open up land to development across
the whole shire and will impact adversely on coastal land, wetlands
of national significance like Waldron’s Swamp and areas known to
contain threatened species like the Yellow Bellied Glider. The
RLS proposes to change the zoning, watering down environmental
constraints important for protecting these wetlands and other areas
of high conservation value. It
will open up land for development which may significantly change the
character of many areas of our shire. Many businesses that rely on
the natural part of the Nature Coast could be adversely affected.
of the areas that will become open to development are sites that back
onto our waterways. This will affect water quality, fish stocks,
oyster beds, and adversely impact our estuaries and beaches.
growers are also very concerned about the impact of the proposed
changes, noting that the pristine waterways of the Shire are of
utmost importance to their businesses, and that increased development
along creeks, rivers and lakes will endanger this multi million
dollar Eurobodalla industry.
The cumulative impact of
this RLS together with other proposed developments will adversely
affect the nature of the Nature Coast.
meeting is on Sunday 18th
November at 2pm at Captain Oldrey Park, Broulee
Media Contact: Kathryn Maxwell, Chair Southcoast Health and
UPDATE ON THE RURAL LANDS STRATEGY/PLANNING PROPOSAL OCTOBER 2018
Most of you will be aware that Eurobodalla Shire Council adopted the Rural Lands Planning Proposal on 28 August 2018 as exhibited with only very minor changes.
Our monitoring suggests some 1100 submissions were received by Council by 28 August 2018. Of these, around 1000 objected strongly to the Planning Proposal and called for its withdrawal for an expert community review including by the NSW State Agencies which Continue reading →
Most of you will be aware that Eurobodalla Shire Council adopted the Rural Lands Planning Proposal on 28 August 2018 as exhibited with only very minor changes.
Our monitoring suggests some 1100 submissions were received by Council by 28 August 2018. Of these, around 1000 objected strongly to the Planning Proposal and called for its withdrawal for an expert community review including by the NSW State Agencies which have raised significant concerns. Some 14 community and conservation organisations registered their concerns and objections as well as five State Agencies. There are less than 50 submissions supporting the Proposal.
Whilst Council refused to withdraw or
fundamentally amend the Proposal, the issue is not settled as the
Mayor would have the community believe. The Proposal now goes to the
Department of Planning for review prior to a decision by the Minister
of Planning. The Alliance has met with the Regional Office of the
Department which will carry out the review. We followed this up with
a letter to the Department about our many concerns.
We are continuing the campaign against
the Proposal and the next step is to get many letters signed and sent
to Andrew Constance, MP for Bega. The Nature Coast Alliance is
meeting with Mr Constance on 19 October. We ask community groups to
network to their members and to write on behalf of your group as
appropriate. This could make an important difference . So far over
500 letters have been signed.
Can you help with any of the
* Letterboxing Broulee, Tomakin and Mossy
Point for a public meeting 18 November 2018. * Regularly sending
letters to local media editors, based on suggestions from the
Alliance. * Making contact with nature based businesses including
nature based tourism, accommodation or recreation, the oyster
industry or recreational fishing to encourage them to lobby the NSW
“The Office of Environment and Heritage has reviewed your latest planning proposal resulting from the Rural Lands Study. Given that none of the changes that we suggested in our 2016 submission on this planning proposal have been adopted, we still retain a number of objections to the proposal.”
Here’s a link to a page of the National Parks Association website, urging people and assisting them to send an email to Gladys Berejiklian urging her not to endorse the renewal of the Regional Forest Agreements, abandon radical changes to NSW logging laws, create the Great Koala National Park and commit to a just transition out of public native forest logging.
This presentation to Eurobodalla Shire Council was made by Reina Hill (Vice President of Coastwatchers) on Tuesday August 14th 2018 in support of Councillor Mayne’s motion that council defer voting on the Draft Rural Lands Strategy, and that Councillors and Council staff meet with the relevant NSW Government Departments that are objecting to the Strategy, to try and satisfy their objections.
The NSW government has recently announced its intention to drastically weaken the logging rules (Integrated Forestry Operations Approval—IFOA) to remove numerous protections for NSW’s threatened species, koalas, old growth & rainforest and waterways.
Are you interested in seeing plastic waste reduced?
Moruya Business Chamber are looking for volunteers to help launch a major initiative in Moruya to try and end the use of plastic bags in shops. Volunteer Advertisement (148KB .pdf)
The “BYO Bag” project has a real chance of making an impact because it is being driven by the Moruya business community, keen to use the opportunity of Woolworths ending single us plastic bag issue on 20 June. The Moruya Business Chamber is co-ordinating the project.
They need volunteers to help in an education effort to help shoppers make the transition to BYO Bag.
You will join other like-minded people staffing a stall at Woolworths in Moruya.
With at least one other person on the information stall you will:
Talk to consumers about the BYO Bag Moruya campaign;
Help consumers with suggestions on how to best “BYO Bag”
Give away free multi use bags and information brochures.
Dates & Times: The stall will run for two weeks, from Monday 25 June to Saturday 7 July. Shifts will be 2 hours between 9am to 5pm.
If you are able to assist then please come to a meeting to discuss the campaign & stalls, to be held at Moruya Books in Church St Friday 15 June at 2.30pm.
If unable to attend phone Janice Sagar 4474 2242 for information.
– my submission to the Rural Lands Strategy Planning Proposal –
I am dismayed that Eurobodalla Shire Council is seeking to remove very important environmental protections from our rural landscape, our beautiful Nature Coast, through its Rural Land Strategy Planning Proposal.
In 2012 Council released a draft plan which was a visionary blueprint for the Shire’s future and included a number of conservation measures to protect our forests, rivers, wetlands and water catchments.
E3 Environmental Management This zone is for land where there are special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic attributes or environmental hazards/processes that require careful consideration/management and for uses compatible with these values.
Council has now responded to a small minority of residents and business people who are mainly large land holders and or property developers by removing the proposed protection of E3 zoning over a large area of rural land, some 38,000 ha. In recognition of established usage, Council’s proposed E3 zoning allowed for grazing and some other rural activities and essentially replaced earlier, similar protective zonings under the 1987 LEP. The current Proposal also removes the minimum lot size of 1000ha and allows significant subdivision.
Council now intends to zone all this land as RU1 Primary Production or RU4 Primary Production Small Lots but with an Open Land Use Table – in other words anything goes. Large landholders and property developers stand to benefit while the broad community faces the inevitable clearing of forested rural land and the steady degradation of Eurobodalla from the Nature Coast to the Naked Coast.
Council’s Proposal also allows grazing without restriction in all E2 Environmental Conservation areas, some 4500 ha, including habitat for endangered species and sensitive wetlands. Wetlands are vital to the clean water of the Shire for drinking, farming, oysters and fisheries as well as the survival of many water birds and countless other species that depend on the unpolluted and undisturbed wetlands. Cattle, horses, sheep, goats and pigs etc. must not be allowed to destroy our wetlands and clean water
I am dismayed that Council has dismissed significant objections to the Proposal by State agencies including the Rural Fire Service, the South East Local Land Services, the Department of Heritage and Environment, Department of Primary Industries – Water & Fisheries. Many of Council’s changes are inconsistent with both advice from the agencies and Directions from the Minister for Planning. Council has also failed to consider the impact of forest clearing on climate change and the much weaker protection against land clearing under the new State laws that last year replaced the Native Vegetation Act.
I want Council to withdraw this Proposal and review it together with expert State agencies and a genuine community advisory panel that is truly representative of the broad community, including several people with wide nature conservation experience.
The following comments represent feedback by the Nature Coast Marine Group and Coastwatchers on the discussion paper prepared for the Narooma workshop in March 2018.
The discussion paper does not mention the State Government’s 2014 Marine Estate Community Survey, which gathered extensive data on attitudes of NSW people towards the marine environment. This can be accessed at:
Dear Mayor and Councillors – Eurobodalla Shire Council
I am writing in response to The Long Beach Community Association letter to Coastwatchers requesting our support for the Long Beach Coastal Wattle Management Project as outlined in the attached OEH Report dated 17 September 2017.
The Coastwatchers Association strongly urges Councillors to adopt the OEH Report and recommendations to the Council meeting of 27 March 2018. Continue reading →
South Coast conservationists have declared the UN International Forests Day on March 21 as a day of shame for the NSW Forestry Corporation and the NSW Government because of the systematic destruction of South Coast forests.
They should hang their heads in shame while the world recognises the critical importance of intact, healthy forests for cool climate, carbon stores, forest plants and animals, clean air, clean water and soil conservation.
They have systematically strip mined the South Coast forests for logs from Eden to Nowra for nearly 50 years and caused immense damage to nature. It is industrial logging at its worst – smash and grab as much as you can, as quickly as you can and then move on before the community really understand what they have lost.
Yet they are determined to bulldoze through new 20 year Regional Forest Agreements that will operate under even weaker environmental regulation. They plan to turn the forests into stick farms to fuel power stations, supply the Eden Chip Mill with woodchips for paper pulp and provide firewood to Canberra and Sydney.
“Forestry is now so desperate for logs to meet its unsustainable sawmill contracts, for woodchips to the Eden Chip Mill and commercial firewood that it has commenced to log intensively the sight screens along the Princes Highway and close into coastal towns like Mogo, Batemans Bay, Moruya, Narooma and Bermagui.”
South Coast conservationists have declared the UN International Forests Day as a day of shame for the NSW Forestry Corporation and the NSW Government because of the systematic destruction of South Coast forests. Continue reading →
In response to The Long Beach Community Association letter to Coastwatchers requesting our support for the Long Beach Coastal Wattle Management Project, we provide the following response.
In the first instance, we acknowledge the ecological value of Coastal Wattle as a dune stabiliser and pioneer species for colonising and stabilising sand dunes and secondly that, it is endemic to the south coast of NSW, its natural habitat being coastal sand dunes, headlands and adjacent alluvial flats. Continue reading →
There are a number of interesting and exciting things happening but Coastwatchers needs volunteers for various tasks if we are to support these events. Please consider what you could take on and let us know ASAP Continue reading →
In the last few weeks, social media has begun predicting a “roll-over” for the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). RFAs are arrangements between the Commonwealth and States aimed at balancing the needs of the forestry industry and its small dependent communities with the need for environmental protection. These agreements were struck in response to intense conflict between environmental and forestry interests spanning the 1970s to the 1990s. Continue reading →
Coastwatchers, Eurobodalla Shire’s largest conservation group, has rejected as complete nonsense the recent attempts by the NSW Department of Primary industries (DPI) to defend the existing Regional Forest Agreements and proposed 20 year extensions as ecologically sustainable and economically responsible. Continue reading →
Submission to Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Amended Investment Policy Ref. No. EOO4623
Due date Wednesday 7th March 2018
Coastwatchers supports and endorses Council’s policy to exit investment in fossil fuel industries.
Coastwatchers urges all Councillors to vote for the Amended Investment Policy, to support “investing with financial institutions that do not invest in, or finance the fossil fuel industry”.
We recognise that it is not desirable to delay this decision, however, we are growing increasingly concerned about logging industry proposals under new long term Regional Forestry Agreements to use native forests for feedstock to power stations and domestic heating, euphemistically described as biomass for renewable (clean) energy. Continue reading →
The 2017 AGM was held at Tomakin Community Hall on October 28th 2017.
It is with pleasure that I welcome members and friends today.
In the 2016-2017 financial year we have held 6 Coastwatchers committee meetings. Though technically outside that in August, the Moruya Forest Forum was arguably a high point with an attendance of around 100 members and friends. This was a timely event in light of the recent renewed interest in logging the forests of Batemans Bay and Mogo. Continue reading →
Please note that the reports formerly called CEMAC Reports in the Coastwatchers website will from now be called Coastal Management Reports.
The NSW Government is working to deliver a new legislative and regulatory framework to better equip coastal communities to respond to existing and emerging coastal challenges and opportunities.Continue reading →
Coastwatchers, other conservation groups and supporters are today rallying at Batemans Bay to protest plans by the Turnbull and Berejiklian governments to lock up 2 million hectares of public forests, hand them over to big business like the Eden Wood Chip Mill and throw away the key.Continue reading →
Interested in energy prices, renewables, climate change? Please come along to this free community forum with Mark Butler, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, and NSW Senator Jenny McAllister. Have your opportunity for input and hear directly from Mark Butler about Labor’s policies with regards to energy, renewables and climate change.
The survey of unusual ecological phenomena, being run by researchers at the University of Adelaide, has been extended until the 5th of March 2018 to give more people the chance to participate. The information collected with this survey will help researchers to understand what unusual ecological phenomena are being observed and how natural resource managers respond to them. This information will help to inform conservation planning and policy.
The survey will be open until Monday 5th March 2018.
The Department of the Environment and Energy is overseeing a statutory review of the operation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012. The review will consider the effectiveness of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in facilitating increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.
The review invites public submissions by Friday 16 February 2018.
Join the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) on the 24th of March in Sydney, one year out from the state election, as they call for the State Government to choose a clean energy future. Lock the Gate, The Wilderness Society, 350.org and the NCC are rallying together and marching through the Sydney CBD to call for 100% renewable energy.
This is a chance to tell the Turnbull and Berejiklian Governments how deeply opposed you are to the destruction of our native forests by the logging industry. Please put Wednesday 14 February in your diary NOW!
The push to lock in new Regional Forest Agreements is now a rolling juggernaut. The conservation movement is deeply worried that the governments will jointly ram new long term agreements through before they next face elections. It is clear to us that the logging and woodchipping will get even more intense and timber allocations under the new RFA’s will effectively be permanent and legally protected against any reduction without massive compensation.
This will apply no matter how desperate the plight of koalas, the greater glider and all other forest wildlife and despite the escalating climate change crisis for which the destruction of forests by industrial logging is a major factor.
The conservation movement does not believe the community “input” sought by the Governments agent, the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) will be anything other than a sham and a fraud. However, we ask that you drop in to the Batemans Bay session on the Wednesday14th February (see details below) if possible to tell them how deeply you are opposed to the destruction of our forests by the logging industry and State Forests.
We will get back to you soon with further information on the RFA juggernaut and the current, ongoing struggle to save the Mogo forest from the next round of devastating logging. Remember, despite all the odds, more than 10 years ago we beat off the Mogo charcoal plant that was to burn our South Coast forests.
By the way, have any of you seen the intensive logging right on the Princes Highway and Tomboyne Road, just south of the East Lynne Store? – get out of your car and have a good look at the future of more than two million hectares of NSW forest and imagine even more intensive logging, most of the South Coast’s forests destined for the Eden woodchip mill or overseas power plants if the governments and industry have their way.
As part of community consultation, DPI is hosting six drop-in sessions throughout February at the following locations:
Community input invited on Regional Forest Agreements
Regional communities are being encouraged to have their say on the renewal of NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), covering the North East, Eden and Southern Regions of NSW.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Group Director Forestry Policy, Research and Development, Nick Milham, said the NSW and Australian governments are currently seeking community input through drop-in sessions, and a consultation and submission process.
“The NSW and Australian governments are encouraging all stakeholders to have their say on what shape the RFAs should take and how we can improve the sustainable management of our native forests,” Mr Milham said.
“The governments are working closely with all parties to get the balance right in the long-term management of our forest resources, and consultation is integral to this process.
“We hope to hear from industry, environment groups, landholders and the broader community on any emerging issues or changes that need to be captured since the agreements were developed nearly 20 years ago,” he said.
Mr Milham said the RFAs are in place to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of Australia’s native forests.
“The renewal consultation coincides with a review being undertaken on how we are tracking in current implementation of the RFAs.
“This provides our stakeholders with a full picture on how we have performed under the existing agreements, while at the same time what the future holds, and how we can learn from our experience over the past 20 years.”
It is with pleasure that I welcome members and friends today.
In the 2016-2017 financial year we have held 6 Coastwatchers committee meetings. Though technically outside that in August, the Moruya Forest Forum was arguably a high point with an attendance of around 100 members and friends. This was a timely event in light of the recent renewed interest in logging the forests of Batemans Bay and Mogo. Our secretary, Richard Roberts, who masterminded the event is our representative on ‘SERCA’ the “South East Region Conservation Alliance” their aim being to end logging on the South Coast.
The Dargues Reef gold mine at Major’s Creek has again been the focus of protracted efforts over the year and to our consternation, was given final approval by the Commonwealth Government in April. We continue to be concerned at its possible impact on the Eurobodalla Water Supply and vulnerable and endangered species as well as the long-term care and maintenance of the site. We believe that security bonds for rehabilitation are inadequate both during mining operations and after mining ceases. We further believe that potential impacts of projects of this nature should be considered over whole catchments rather than localised areas surrounding mined sites. I would like to specifically thank Richard Roberts and Dr Emmett O’Loughlin for their invaluable contributions to our submissions.
The need to always look beyond the immediate locale of a project is demonstrated by the difficulties of the Shorebird Recovery Program within our region. Because the nesting sites for shorebirds are above Mean High Tide level, they have no protection under the zonings of Marine Parks. Coastal developments, uncontrolled dogs and predation by foxes and feral cats are our chief concerns. I would like to acknowledge the dedication of our President, John Perkins to this work which has become all- consuming especially over the nesting season.
With Climate Change concerns, in particular anticipated sea level rises, I wish to acknowledge the environmental advocacy of our long-time Committee member, Reina Hill, our representative on ‘CEMAC’, Eurobodalla Shire Council’s “Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee.” Her voice is essential on this large committee where developer interests are strongly represented and often antagonistic to coastal management reforms.
On-going monitoring of Council’s agendas is an essential role for Coastwatchers especially in light of increasing pressures from tourism and developers. The Eurobodalla Rural Lands Strategy is an on-going consideration of what is best for the community. The proposed large residential subdivision around Bevian Road between Rosedale and Guerilla Bay is effectively a new suburb warranting close attention to ensure protection of wetland habitats and remnant vegetation while planning for inclusion of Open Space linkages for walkers and cyclists. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the value of providing a range of housing styles to meet changing community needs.
I wish to acknowledge the role of Committee member Joslyn van der Moolen in bringing us into the 21st century with the establishment of Social Media accounts and our Treasurer Mark Rote in re-vamping our Website to enable improved navigation and management.
And I especially wish to acknowledge the commitment and contributions of both Richard and Barbara Roberts since the inception of Coastwatchers in the early 1980’s. Along with Reina Hill they had the foresight to launch and nurture our Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens. It has been a long involvement with numerous ups and downs along the way.
Richard’s dedication to the professional production of our newsletters is exemplary. Nine newsletters have been produced this year covering not only local but wider environmental issues, many of global significance.
In spite of our relatively stable membership (from 125 at this time last year to currently 118), the difficulty of attracting younger members continues to be of concern. Our membership is ageing with some people moving on to meet their changed needs. Two long-serving members, Martin Phillips and Jim Baker passed away his year.
Has Society in general moved away from public interest groups that demand time and support? Has social media replaced these groups? In the not too distant future the picture may be much clearer.
The financial position of the Association remains very sound and I thank all members for their support in achieving this.
With unforeseen but much enjoyed grand parenting responsibilities in far North Queensland, I must relinquish my role with Coastwatchers. My hope is that the Association will continue to fulfil a most important function to the benefit of our community.
The Coastwatchers Environment Fund is one of hundreds of environment funds which have been registered on the Commonwealth Government’s REO – the Register of Environmental Organisations. This registration process provides the legal basis for attracting tax-deductible donations.
A Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry is considering requiring 25-50% of all tax deductible revenue to be spent on remedial environmental work.
The NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) has prepared the following comments.
“DGR STATUS: Should all Environmental Charities have to plant trees?
For decades, groups on the Register of Environmental Organisations (REO) have been eligible for tax-deductible donations – encouraging private funding for the public good.
But in 2016, half the members of a (Commonwealth) Parliamentary Inquiry proposed that in order to remain eligible, environmental groups, including EDOs, must spend at least 25% of their donations revenue of reactive ‘environment remediation work’ – activities like tree planting.
We (the EDO) believe proactive protection of the environment provides clear public benefits in many forms:
raising environmental awareness;
enforcing and strengthening environmental policy and laws;
and new research on species, ecosystems and environmental innovation.
Imposing a minimum spend on remediation would require many well established environmental charities to
either radically alter the way they operate;
inefficiently divert money to other groups at the Commonwealth Government’s direction;
or lose eligibility for taxdeductibility donations altogether.
Following the 2016 REO inquiry, a 2017 Commonwealth Treasury Consultation paper asked what stakeholders think about the ‘minimum spend’ proposal for environment groups. It even floated the option of increasing the minimum to 50% of donated funds.
During the consultation period, environmental Deductible Gift Recipients were for the first time required to report the percentage of their public donations expended on ‘onground environmental remediation’, ‘advocacy’ and other activities.
The proposal did not originate within the Commonwealth Treasury – it takes up arguments made by the mining and resources lobby, including the Queensland Resources Council and the gas-industry funded Energy Resources Information Centre.
It’s vital that the views of these lobbyists are not given more weight than those of the hundreds of environment groups, community members, donors and governance experts who made submissions to the REO Inquiry, pointing out the pitfalls artificially distinguishing ‘on-ground’ rehabilitation from other things environmental groups do to pursue their public purpose. Their evidence led to half the Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee rejecting the minimum 25% spending proposal.
It may suit some private interests for the Commonwealth Government to constrain environmental voices, restrict community access to legal services and place new administrative burdens on the charity sector.
But it’s not in the public interest, nor what the broader community expect of our charity and tax laws. That is why our current laws focus on charities’ purposes, rather than attempting to define their activities.