Evans: I need more time for timber Bill
NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans has defended the time it is taking to develop and table a Private Member’s Bill to return commercial timber harvesting to the Murray Valley National Park, saying it’s a case of needing to get it right.
Mr Evans admitted it is taking longer than anticipated to deliver on his preelection promise to ease the economic devastation to the timber industry and their communities as a result of the National Parks gazettal.
He said it’s because there are ‘‘a lot more subtleties and complexities than I first thought’’, but assured the local community the Bill is still on the agenda.
In the meantime, he said other ‘ loopholes’ to allow commercial harvesting in the National Parks without relying on his Bill being fully supported are also being investigated.
Mr Evans has come out in defence of his actions after a blast from Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Mick Veitch for ‘‘maintaining his vow of silence on the Murray Valley National Park’’.
Despite saying he would block Mr Evans’ Bill, Mr Veitch still took the local member to task for failing to introduce his Bill before the winter Parliamentary break.
‘‘Despite having had ample opportunity he has done nothing and now one whole parliamentary ses- sion has lapsed,’’ Mr Veitch said.
‘‘Austin Evans is proving to be a true Nationals MP — he talks tough at home but once in Sydney he goes all quiet.
‘‘Austin Evans promised locals that he would be a loud voice for them, but he must have a bad case of laryngitis because he seems to have lost his voice altogether.’’
Mr Evans said his ‘silence’ on the Bill in Parliamentary sittings does not mean work on it is not still continuing.
‘‘I am continuing conversations with Minister for Lands and Forestry Paul Toole, the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and the Minister for Environment Gabriele Upton, and I am still working on the Bill,’’ he said.
‘‘What was done (with the Murray Valley National Park) was a blunt instru- ment over a large area — the more I look at it the more clumsy it looks.
‘‘We are looking at other options and ideas (concurrent to the Bill’s development) and some of the ideas brought forward include nil tenure.
‘‘I don’t profess to know everything about how it will work, but as I understand it there will be no change in ownership but we may be able to change management.
‘‘Some national parks all over the world have this and allow commercial harvesting, but we seem to have a ‘lock it up’ attitude here.’’
Mr Evans has never denied that getting support for his Bill will be easy, particularly when it comes to the Liberal members of his Coalition government.
He said while he’s made no progress in shoring up numbers to support his Bill, he believes many support the idea in principle.
‘‘I get the sense I have the general support, but for those who are wavering it will come down to the details,’’ Mr Evans said.
‘‘When I first took this on I had expected to have something finalised sooner than this, but I am learning a lot more about the subtleties and complexities.
‘‘I could have put a Bill up in February, but it would not have had much support.’’
Member for Murray Austin Evans.