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Lead By: Staff-Editor-02

'Death Blow' - NSW farmers unsure of new koala policy

Details of the new policy were unveiled a fortnight ago after the NSW Liberals and Nationals made a deal on koala protection which gives more concessions to farmers.

The new planning regulations will leave them largely exempt from extra koala protection responsibilities.

Rural areas will be removed from the new State Environment Planning Policy on koalas and come under a new code that is yet to be developed.

Land that is zoned for farming and forestry will not be subject to the rules designed to protect koala habitat.

The changes will focus on high-conservation areas where 95 per cent of development occurs, and there'll be specific plans for koala habitat in the Tweed and Byron shires.

However, NSW Farmers Association president James Jackson said he was concerned about the finer detail.

"The stinger of this is in the tail, and that is the proposal to actually review land management codes," he said.

"So although on the face of it it seems to be something we concur with, the stinger is exactly how the land management codes and guidelines will be affected."

Mr Jackson said he would be looking for more clarification on the new policy and for more information regarding reviews of land management codes.

"We're desperately trying to find out exactly what this means and what the impact is for our farmers and their ability to conduct their business on their land," he said.

However, Mr Jackson denied that any concessions given to farmers would see koalas threatened.

"The koalas that are alive in New South Wales at the moment are almost exclusively alive on private property managed under these codes."

'Catastrophic' policy

Green groups have labelled the new policy as "catastrophic".

A forest conservation group has described the NSW Government's new koala policy as a death blow for koalas.

North East Forest Alliance president Dailan Pugh said he was concerned that it removed councils' ability to regulate logging on private land.

"So council can no longer require a consent for logging or prohibit it, so currently throughout north-east New South Wales there's something like 167,000 hectares of land that's zoned for protection where logging's not allowed and there's about another 600,000 hectares where councils require consent," he said.

"So under what they're proposing here, all that protection gets removed.

"Across the board, councils' ability to regulate what occurs on private land is gone in terms of logging and they're doing that because they're concerned that too many councils are, to use their words, 'greenie councils' who are requiring these constraints for logging.

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Editorial |  :

The chances of a war in the Indo-Pacific region involving China are rising sharply, according to former defence minister Christopher Pyne, who warned Taiwan was most likely the next flashpoint.

Former defence minister Christopher Pyne has warned of the potential for war with China in the Indo-Pacific region

In an address to the University of Adelaide, the long-serving Liberal politician told graduating students "the strategic posture of the People's Republic of China is not as benign as it was", and is causing discomfort to the United States and its allies.

"The reality is that China is confident and capable and is not embarrassed to show it," he warned students on Monday.

Mr Pyne, who stepped down as defence minister in 2019, said the likelihood of a "Kinetic war" in the Indo-Pacific was now much higher than when he first served as minister for defence industry.

"Five years ago, I would've said that the possibility was very unlikely, now I would have to say that the possibility is more likely than it was then," he said.

"Not a cyber war, but a real one involving loss of life, destruction of military platforms, with aggressors and defenders on different sides.

“This isn’t rhetoric, this is something that you and I may well have to confront in the next 5 to 10 years”

Since leaving politics Mr Pyne has drawn criticism for his work as a lobbyist on behalf of various defence companies in Australia but delivered the graduation oration to the University of Adelaide Law School on Monday, where he outlined China's rapid rise as a military power.

"While the United States still accounts for one in every two dollars spent on the military in the world, a staggering statistic, China's published defence spend will be $US210 billion in 2021," he said.

"China's military is very capable in an asymmetric war against the US and its allies around the island chains of the western Indo-Pacific and South East Asia — Australia is one of those allies."

Avoiding war 'Our paramount defence and foreign policy priority'

Last month, Admiral Philip S Davidson from the United States Indo-Pacific Command said it was imperative the US protect its Pacific territories from a possible Chinese incursion. 

Mr Pyne has also pointed to Beijing's recent actions, such as taking control of Hong Kong and staring down criticism of its treatment of ethnic Uyghurs, to highlight the growing threat posed by the Chinese military.

"It feels strong enough to press its claims over the South China Sea and despite assuring the second Obama administration in Washington that it would not militarise reefs and shoals, go ahead and do so anyway," he said.

"Most concerning of all, it has turned up pressure on Taiwan, the most likely next flashpoint in the region."

Earlier this month, a senior American diplomat confirmed Australia and the United States were discussing contingency plans in case a military conflict erupts over Taiwan.

However, Mr Pyne declared "Avoiding any kind of war is our paramount defence and foreign policy priority as a nation".

"That will not be achieved by hiving ourselves off from our allies like the US, Japan and India, in fact, the opposite is true.

"It is in no one's interest to adopt a policy of containment of China; rather, it is in everyone's interest to promote a policy of engagement with China that lifts all the boats across our region."

Story By | Andrew Greene

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