Penny Sharpe: Shadow environment minister visits Far South Coast

ADVOCATING FOR FORESTS: NSW's shadow minister for the environment Penny Sharpe visits Doctor George Mountain while on her trip to the Far South Cost. Picture: Albert McKnight
ADVOCATING FOR FORESTS: NSW's shadow minister for the environment Penny Sharpe visits Doctor George Mountain while on her trip to the Far South Cost. Picture: Albert McKnight

Logging plantations instead of native forests and banning single-use plastic bags are two ways to improve the Far South Coast, according to NSW’s shadow minister for the environment. 

The minister, Labor’s Penny Sharpe, was visiting Bega Valley on Wednesday, February 3, to learn about issues affecting the region’s environment. 

“It’s very easy to sit in an office reading reports and think you know what’s happening,” she said after going to the Biamanga Cultural Area, which she thought was stunning. 

“But it’s only by coming and visiting a region and talking to locals that you learn what’s actually going on.” 

One of the major focuses for her visit was to look at the state of koalas in the region, coming to the conclusion that much more needed to be done in order to prevent the decline of their population.

She said logging of native forests definitely contributes to this decline as it removes their habitats. 

To help halt the loss of koalas Ms Sharpe said there needed to be less logging of native forests and more of plantations, effort needed to be put to find out how many koalas were left in the wild and she would be advocating for a commitment from the government to save the koalas in the South East.

She said forests also needed to be looked at from the perspective of how they are carbon sinks that help combat climate change so any changes to policy on logging should take this into account. 

“This part of the world is incredibly important and likes to talk about itself as a ‘wilderness coast’,” she said. 

“There needs to be better focus on preserving this wilderness.” 

Also, Ms Sharpe said Labor does not support biomass being used as a fuel.

“In my view it is not a renewable energy source and it should not be used as one,” she said. 

Another of Ms Sharpe’s concerns is marine and plastic pollution, saying she is advocating to ban single-use plastic bags and is looking at moving a private members bill on that topic as well as pushing the government to do more on a container deposit scheme. 

“We know plastic pollution is emerging as a huge issue worldwide,” she said. 

When it came to the controversial trawler the Geelong Star, which recently returned to fishing after causing the deaths of several albatrosses, Ms Sharpe said she thought super trawlers do immense damage to the marine environment. 

“We cannot have sustainable fisheries if all we do is tear it up and pull it out,” she said.