Tensions between public environmental regulation and private property interests: the case of land clearing in New South Wales

LexisNexis Australia
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Journal Article
Australian Environment Review, 2014, 29 (9), pp. 264 - 266 (3)
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On 29 July 2014, Ian Turnbull, the patriarch of a farming family from northern New South Wales, allegedly shot and killed Glen Turner, an officer of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Turnbull had been investigated and fined previously by the department for illegal land clearing. According to media reports, Turnbull's family claimed that he had become a "broken man", himself a victim of the government's "aggressive stance", and had "battled" legal proceedings regarding illegal vegetation clearing on his property.1 Turner's tragic death, and Turnbull's state of mind, have been unashamedly politicised by federal, state and local government figures who have sought to conflate the alleged murder with the debate over vegetation laws. Certainly, vegetation laws have been the subject of political controversy in several Australian states for well over a decade. Although different states have different laws, and changes of state governments sometimes involve changes to vegetation laws, ultimately vegetation laws have become a fixture on the Australian legal landscape. Trying to draw a causal connection between vegetation laws and the alleged murder of a government officer is not only insensitive and inflammatory, it is also indicative of a deep misunderstanding of Australian laws and their interaction.
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