“An investigation of the minister’s diary shows she is yet to visit Kosciuszko National Park to view the extensive damage caused by feral horses, despite holding the portfolio when her own government passed legislation protecting these destructive animals in June 2018,” Reclaim Kosci campaign coordinator Richard Swain said today.
“As the NSW environment minister, Gabrielle Upton has an obligation to protect Kosciuszko National Park from environmental threats, and feral horses are one of its biggest, yet she seems to be turning a blind eye to the issue.”
“Not only is the minister failing to stand up for the environment but she is also failing to stand up to Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who is riding roughshod over her portfolio by forcing through Parliament a law to protect a feral species in one of Australia’s most iconic national parks.”
Minister Upton’s public diary shows that before the law protecting feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park was introduced, her only external briefing about the issue was by the Australian Brumby Alliance and the Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group.
The CEOs of the Invasive Species Council and the National Parks Association of NSW personally extended an invitation to Minister Upton to visit the park in July 2018, which was only declined in January this year.
“The invitation still stands,” Mr Swain said. “A site visit will help the minister understand the extent of the damage caused by feral horses and the importance of an effective solution.”
All three previous environment ministers since the Coalition was first elected in 2011 received on-site briefings about the horse issue. This was confirmed by a review of Ministers’ diary disclosures, a GIPA (Government Information (Public Access) Act) request and briefings from retired Kosciuszko National Park managers.
An information request by the National Parks Association of NSW revealed that Gabrielle Upton had not visited Kosciuszko National Park, even with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, since her appointment as environment minister in January 2017, up to July 2018.
The last three environment ministers, all from the Liberal Party, were Robyn Parker (Apr 2011-Apr 2014), Rob Stokes (Apr 2014-Apr 2015) and Mark Speakman (Apr 2015-Jan 2017).
The last environment minister, Mark Speakman, who oversaw the consensus-building 2016 draft horse plan, undertook a two-day ground and air inspection of the park.