18 June, 2024
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MORE ANIMALS & PLANTS ON THE ROAD TO EXTINCTION AFTER THE AUDITOR GENERAL GIVES THE NSW BIODIVERSITY OFFSETS SCHEME A FAIL

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The NSW Labor Opposition has called for an urgent overhaul of the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme after today’s scathing report from the NSW Auditor-General shows that the scheme is failing and will exacerbate the extinction of threatened plants and animals throughout NSW.
 
The report finds that without effective management, half of the 359 threatened animals and 684 threatened plants in NSW will be condemned to extinction in 100 years.

“There is rarely an Auditor General Report into a government scheme that demonstrates the failure to deliver on a program’s basic aims & objectives – this report does just that,” said Penny Sharpe, Labor’s Shadow Minister for the Environment.

“This is a program that is supposed to protect biodiversity yet has been found wanting in almost all aspects of its operation,” she said.

“The NSW Government must urgently outline how they will reform this failed scheme to prevent an ecological crisis in NSW.

“The future of threatened species in NSW will require the NSW Government to reform a scheme riddled with complexity, conflicts of interest, lack of transparency, inadequate market safeguards and lack of understanding from stakeholders.”

The Auditor General’s report found the following serious issues with the scheme:

  • The NSW Government failed to design the scheme in line with the biodiversity outcomes required by the Biodiversity Conservation Act, including the principle of ‘ecologically sustainable development’;
  • The market underpinning the scheme is poorly developed and unable to meet growing demand, leading to under-compensated clearing of vulnerable ecosystems;
  • Tools provided by the scheme are unreliable and missing key information;
  • Substantial concerns about the integrity, transparency, and sustainability of the scheme, with inadequate safeguards against conflicts of interest;
  • A failure to remove barriers to landholder participation in the scheme – a key measure to increase supply of credits; and
  • A lack of future planning and monitoring to ensure biodiversity outcomes are genuinely being provided by the scheme.

Problems with the scheme’s integrity, transparency and sustainability remain unresolved, as around 90 per cent of demand for credits cannot be supplied – a demand expected to grow with the NSW Government’s planned infrastructure. Similar concerns into the integrity of the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme are the subject of a current Legislative Council committee inquiry, expected to report in the coming months.


“The committee has found similar serious problems with the scheme and will make further recommendations about how the NSW Government’s mess can be turned around,” Sharpe said.

PENNY SHARPE MLC
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

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