North coast Nationals candidates should declare whether they have accepted election campaign donations from logging or timber industry interests if they want to engage in the pre-election debate on publicly owned forests’ future use, according to North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Mr John Corkill.

“We call on all candidates in the state’s north east region to declare whether they have accepted donations from the logging or timber industry for use in their 2015 state election campaigns, said Mr Corkill, spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance.

[I.e the State electoral divisions of Tweed, Ballina, Lismore, Clarence, Coffs Harbour, Oxley, Port Macquarie, Northern Tablelands, Myall Lakes and Upper Hunter.]

Mr Corkill said three north coast Nationals candidates had recently incorrectly asserted that the Great Koala Park proposal promised by NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley would cost 3,000 timber industry jobs. (See eg < )

“Because they have exaggerated the size and economic significance of the logging industry, to influence the current public debate over the future use of publicly owned forests, I especially call on Nationals candidates for Clarence, Mr Gulaptis, Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser and Oxley, Melinda Pavey, to put any political campaign donations they have accepted from forestry or logging interests on the public record before the election,” Mr Corkill said.

“If Mr Gulaptis, Mr Fraser or Ms Peavey want to comment on, or attempt to direct NSW Government policy on the allocation of publicly owned forests, they need to come to the debate with clean hands. They should immediately declare if they have accepted any election campaign donations from logging or timber industry interests,” Mr Corkill said.

“If it’s unacceptable for developers to give election campaign donations to attempt to influence public policy on planning, we should not allow donations from loggers and millers to dictate natural resource management policy in New South Wales,” he said.

Mr Corkill said it was vital that public policy decisions on the allocation of public forests be based on a transparent appraisal of the best long term use of all of the natural resources involved, in the public interest, and not on the short advantage of private vested interests.

Mr Corkill challenged Mr Gulaptis, Mr Fraser and Ms Peavey to publicly justify how the Nationals policy positions supporting more industrial logging of native forests on public lands, under current institutional arrangements, is consistent with the best long term use of the forests’ natural resources, in the ‘public interest’.

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