The office of the former environment minister Josh Frydenberg canvassed whether he had the power to water down federal protections for critically endangered grasslands and if it could be kept secret, following lobbying from a fellow minister, Angus Taylor.
Taylor and his brother have substantial rural interests on the Monaro plains, where the grasslands are prevalent.
In 2017, a company, Jam Land, in which both Angus and his brother Richard have a shareholding, was investigated by Frydenberg’s department for spraying 30 hectares of native grassland at Delegate in south-east New South Wales.
On Wednesday the Guardian revealed that Taylor, then the minister for cities and digital transformation, sought meetings with departmental officials to discuss the 2016 listing that protects the grasslands as a critically endangered community.
And From our supposedly Green Council.
‘It’s not something we intended to do’: Byron Bay region hit by mass fish kill
By Peter Hannam
June 19, 2019 —7
Thousands of fish have died in a national park near Byron Bay after the local council opened an estuary, leading to a sharp drop in oxygen levels in Tallow Creek.
“It was a massive fish kill, there’s no doubt,” Dailan Pugh, a local conservationist said, noting the Byron Shire Council shifted at least 12 tonnes of dead fish while others were “swept out to sea”.
Thousands of dead fish strewn along Tallow Creek, near Byron Bay, after a mass kill on June 15.
The dead fish included bream, flathead, whiting and eels.
Mr Pugh said he warned council staff last Friday when they began digging a channel through a sand bank separating Tallow Creek from the sea that they risked a repeat of a similar “horrific” fish kill in November 2017.
“It’s outrageous this should be allowed to occur” within the Arakwal National Park, he said.
James Flockton, flood and drainage engineer for the council, said a build-up of water behind the sand bank had begun to flood residents’ backyards. The council has a licence from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to open the mouth of the creek when water levels reach 2.2 metres.
The Tallow Creek estuary being opened to the sea on June 14 by the Byron Bay Council.
The fish kill is caused by the outflow of water with relatively high levels of dissolved oxygen in the centre of the creek. Fish left stranded in the stratified water with poor oxygen levels, however, start to suffocate.
“It’s terrible,” Mr Flockton said. “It’s not something we intended to do.”
He said shire staff planned to meet NPWS staff and those from the Cape Byron Marine Park Authority, Crown Lands and Arakwal next week. One option would be for the council to have a more flexible licence to open the estuary, rather than waiting for water levels to reach 2.2 metres.
The dilemma for the council is to wait for a rain event that would have helped mix the water behind the sand bank. However, if too much rain falls, risks of flooding increase – precisely what the dredging is aimed at reducing, Mr Flockton said.
Mr Pugh said thousands of fish had also died at the nearby Belongil Creek in March, in similar circumstances.
He said it was time for the coastal management plans to be reviewed to ensure further encroachment of properties into the flood zone is restricted.
The Office of Environment and Heritage was also approached for comment.