NSW Labor has announced it would invest $24 million to establish highly-trained Kosciuszko works crews to repair the mountain catchments and restore eroding slopes, wetlands and mountain streams if elected at the 2019 state election.
It says the works program will create 60 jobs to address damage to water catchments and restore the best possible water delivery from the mountains to the Snowy Scheme and downstream farmers, towns and cities.
“Kosciuszko National Park contains the alpine streams and wetlands that supply high-quality water at the origin of the Murray-Darling Basin – yet the waterways and surrounding soil and slopes have been heavily damaged by introduced species like horses, pigs, and deer,” said Deputy Labor Leader Penny Sharpe.
“As part of Labor’s plan to manage a smaller wild horse population away from sensitive alpine environments, we will employ 60 new field officers to undertake the much-needed work of repair and restoration to our treasured Kosciuszko National Park.”
“The Liberals and Nationals have actively undermined the environment and crucial waters of the Snowy Mountains with their reckless laws that place a higher value on wild horses than Australian native species.”
The works crews will perform tasks such as repairing eroding drainage lines, re-establishing soil cover, restoring heavily disturbed wetland water tables, and snowgum plantings. They will also work on the restoration of creeks, fens and wetlands, including the Snowy, Murrumbidgee, and Ingeegoodbee rivers.
Country Labor Candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson said the new crews would be critical to restoring the fragile mountain environment.
“John Barilaro’s wild horse protection laws will damage Australia’s unique alpine ecosystem and the quality of water delivered to the Murray-Darling Basin, while risking the booming tourism industry. Labor will take a sensible approach to managing wild horses while repairing the damage that has been done,” he said.
Last year Labor opposed the ill-thought Berejiklian-Barilaro laws to protect wild horses above all other environmental considerations in Kosciuszko National Park, because the laws ignore science and the irreversible damage that unmanaged wild horse populations have done to the National Park.
Labor remains committed to repealing the laws and implementing Labor’s six-point plan to protect Kosciuszko National Park’s fragile environment and the threatened species that live there.
Reclaim Kosci campaign coordinator Alison Swain welcomed the decision.
“We are very pleased NSW Labor will be investing in our water catchments by repairing damage caused by feral horses and other hard-hoofed animals. The increase in staffing is sorely needed in Kosciuszko National Park and will be well received,” she said.
“Labor appears committed to fixing the feral horse mess created by the National/Liberal coalition.”
“They have been consistent with their feral horse policy since the coalition put through the ridiculous horse protection law. We are pleased they will repeal the Wild Horse Heritage Act, and look forward to hearing more details about their policies.”