Our leaders have failed us

Dear Premier,

On Saturday the memorial for Glen Turner, the NSW compliance officer who was allegedly gunned down on the side of the road at Croppa Creek on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 by Ian Turnbull was held at Dungowan. 

Hundreds of members of the NSW community including Glen’s family, friends, colleagues and even people that Glen had dealt with in a professional capacity as a government compliance officer came together to remember him and celebrate his life.

Despite the horrific nature of this alleged killing, our leaders have failed us by not presenting a unified and unanimous condemnation of this abhorrent act.

 The use of this terrible event as a platform for changing the native vegetation legislation is morally corrupt and totally inappropriate.

Statements suggesting that violence was somehow inevitable due to the supposed unjust nature of these laws only serve to tacitly legitimise the alleged actions of Ian Turnbull. 

Such statements increase the likelihood that other community members who disagree with current government policy or legislation will also take up arms.

We must condemn such acts in the strongest possible terms otherwise I fear we will end up with further blood on our hands. 

Such acts are not a valid protest action and their perpetrators cannot be allowed to attain martyr or outlaw hero status amongst others of the same ilk. 

The issue at stake here is not one of the ‘rabid greenies’ versus the ‘poor farmer’. 

It is an issue of law and order – the very ligaments that bind our society together. Laws are invariably made for the benefit of society, for some greater good. The native vegetation legislation is no exception. 

Even if we put the environmental arguments of biodiversity, threatened species and climate change to one side, clearing has been widely accepted as the major driver of dryland salinity as it reduces evapotranspiration, thereby causing groundwater tables to rise which bring dissolved salts closer to the surface.

 This issue seriously threatens the productivity of our existing agricultural lands and costs this country many millions of dollars each year. 

We all, as Australian citizens, rely upon the sustained productivity of these resources.

The catchment within which this event occurred, the Murray-Darling Basin, has already been significantly degraded by salinity.

 It nonetheless supports many thousands of other agricultural businesses and supplies water to many towns along its rivers and indeed to the city of Adelaide. It feeds and clothes many millions throughout the world. 

To suggest therefore that landholders should have absolute sovereignty over the vegetation on their land is clearly a complete nonsense, as this undermines the security and safety of many, many others in favour of personal gain by a tiny minority.

Had this slaying been motivated by any other legislation, I believe the reaction from the government would have been completely different. 

The relatively recent slaying of the Tamworth police officer, David Rixon provides a pertinent example. 

Glen Turner was employed to enforce legislation created by the NSW Parliament just as David Rixon was.

 To suggest therefore, that the taking of his life was not somehow worthy of unanimous condemnation just because he was enforcing controversial legislation is repugnant.

Any action, by any person, that threatens, intimidates or harms any public official in the course of their duties cannot be tolerated. The alternative I fear is anarchy.           Name provided