Letter: transparency needed over use of public funds

I would like to respond to Leslie William’s statement dated 18 December 2018 in her Community Newsletter when the Minister announced results of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trusts (BCT) tender for koala conservation management in the Port Macquarie area.

The BCT is entering conservation agreements totalling $6.3 million to be divided between five private property owners with payments annually for five years.

The total area of the properties is only 173 hectares. I presume these privately owned properties are east of the Pacific Highway where koala populations are minimal compared to west of the highway.

What accountability is there for the use of public funds on private properties. On what do they spend the funds? After all, koalas only need enough eucalypt trees and water and to be left alone.

I did contact Leslie William’s office for more information and she was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to ring me. She explained that the worthy recipients were selected by the BCT’s Board.

I enquired where the recipients were and on what were the funds to be spent. The Minister said that it was a private contract and details could not be divulged.

My question is, if the funding is $6.3 million locally and $61.4 million state wide and as the grants are public funds, why are we the taxpayer not allowed more transparency and accountability for public funds? I have dealt with Leslie Williams on numerous occasions  and she has always returned my enquiries.

Gabrielle Upton Minister for the Environment announced a further $61.4 million for BCT Programs in 2018/19 to encourage private landholders to protect and conserve biodiversity on private land. So jump on this gravy train while you can.

What happened to common sense government?

Steve Bryson, Bonny Hills