Baird urges cool heads over land clearing

NSW Premier Mike Baird has called for cool heads to prevail after the shooting death of an environment officer sparked fresh debate over land clearing laws.


Farmer Ian Robert Turnbull, 79, is accused of killing environment officer Glen Turner in northern NSW on Tuesday.

Mr Turner, 51, was carrying out duties related to land clearing north of Moree at Croppa Creek when he was allegedly murdered.

NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner has criticised land clearing rules since the death.

But Mr Baird says that’s the wrong attitude.

“The events we saw are tragic and when you see something like this emotions bubble to the top and commentary will follow,” he told reporters in Ashcroft in Sydney’s southwest on Friday.

“Supporting this family and completing the criminal case, that’s the priority.

“The onus is on everyone to have a cool head.”

Turnbull was charged with murder and refused bail on Wednesday. The case was adjourned to August 5.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge accused Mr Stoner of validating an act of political violence.

“If a parking ranger had been killed enforcing an unpopular parking law, or a police officer had been killed enforcing an unpopular speeding law, we would never tolerate this kind of discussion,” he told reporters.

“Members in the right of politics are looking for an opportunity to attack a set of laws and they’re willing to exploit the tragic death of this worker to further their political agenda.”

Assistant General Secretary of the Public Service Association Steve Turner said: “No one’s death should be used as a political pawn.”

Mr Stoner said the allegations against him were “insensitive, cheap and amount to slanderous lies.”

“This is a tragic crime that cannot be justified on any grounds,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Stoner said his comments were “contextual (and) made in response to media questions about the Native Vegetation Act. They were in no way an endorsement of the alleged criminal act”.

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