Cultivating Murder – Cost of Protecting Native Vegetation

Cultivating Murder movieOn 24th April, 75 members and guests were treated to a premiere showing of the crowd-funded documentary film “Cultivating Murder” by Film Projects. This is a collaborative effort from Director Greg Miller and Producer Dr Georgia Wallace-Crabbe. It features the story behind the murder of OE&H compliance officer Glen Turner in 2014 by Ian Turnbull, who happens to be one of the wealthiest farmers in NSW.

Glen turnerGlen worked on the frontline of habitat and wildlife protection in the Moree district and was investigating the illegal land clearing operations of the Turnbull family. The Turnbulls would purchase grazing landholdings and any remnant native vegetation on the property was bulldozed to improve the cropping potential of the land. However these remnant copses were clearly home to native wildlife (like locally highly threatened koalas) and, as such, were protected by state government legislation. Previously repeated large scale land clearing prosecutions of the Turnbulls meant they had already racked up multiple million dollar fines. In spite of this they continued clearing land. While Glen had been filming these further violations, Turnbull cold- bloodedly murdered him in front of an OE&H colleague. This witness would help to ensure a murder conviction but the killer died within 12 months of his effectively life sentence.

The film is a tribute to Glen and his family but it goes far beyond this personal tragedy. It highlights the greed of certain landholders and the political pressure they have placed on our present State government which has caved in ensuring the watering down of native vegetation protection laws*. This had originally been designed by scientific experts to protect the already critically endangered remnants. But as Ian Turnbull’s son says dismissively outside court: this tragedy will happen again unless the government stops contesting farmer’s business plans.

Click here to see more at Cultivating Murder Website

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Native VegetationThe Native Vegetation Act and the Threatened Species Conservation Act were replaced in November 2016 by the Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act. OFF made a submission on the draft legislation pointing out many shortcomings. Now the draft regulations for the Act are on exhibition for six weeks from 10th May.

OFF will make a submission and OFF members are encouraged to do so too.

Details on the NSW Government website



Street Tree Removal

A copy of a letter from concerned Oatley West resident, addressed to the Administrator, Georges River Council.

Today I rang Council to inquire as to why 2 street trees have recently been removed in Oatley West. I believe tree canopy on both private and public property is very important in terms of the ecosystem services that trees provide in our urban neighbourhoods. There is the matter of cumulative loss of tree canopy and the general council response to this, and I will take that up in subsequent correspondence.

I was dealt with politely by the Customer Service Officer who was keen to act in a helpful and transparent manner. He provided me verbally with the following information, apparently from the date base access he had to the relevant Council Reports. He also assured me that he would refer my verbal inquiry to the appropriate council officer and that I would receive a phone  call back, and this has not occurred.

Here is the information that he reported to me, and my comments in response to it.

79 Gungah Bay Rd (2)Street Tree removal directly outside  79 Gungah Bay Rd. Oatley West. The Report stated that a “pruning request” only was approved. The Council Customer Officer could see no approval for further removal and could not explain why the Street tree has been removed. So my first questions are ; Why has this tree been removed, and why is this  council report seemingly inaccurate?


79 Gungah Bay Rd (6)In the absence of any other feedback, my own research has established that a D/A has been approved for 79 Gungah Bay Rd; D/A 2016/0055. Whilst the applicant as required by the form is identified as ‘MCubed’, there is no documented identification of the property owner. Why is this the case, and Who is the owner? Doesn’t transparency of process require the declaration of ownership? Furthermore an examination of the Approved site plan  seems to suggest that the Street Tree may have been ‘in the way’ of the driveway configuration that was approved. My questions are ” Was this the reason that this street tree removal taken place? Why has this happened  in the apparent absence of any transparent approval process? 

29 Baker St (1)Street tree removal outside 29 Baker Street, Oatley West. The  Customer Service Officer said the report had stated that this tree “fell over in a storm”. I have much admired this majestic tree, and did note in a recent storm it dropped a branch, that was ‘cleaned up’ by a crew on a particular day. Much to the disappointment of both my husband and I, the next day the whole of the  tree was removed,  though it looked healthy to us, and in fact the stump looks that way and it is still in the ground.

29 Baker St (2)So since we know to the contrary that the whole tree did not fall over in a storm, we are witnesses to the fact that the report, as reported to me today is inaccurate. My question is, what is Councils’ official explanation of this?

In the meantime I would also request replacement  street tree plantings of significant native species, in positions as close as practical to the sites where these trees have been removed.  In the case of 79 Gungah Bay Rd, an opportunity exists not just for a street tree outside that address, but for a native garden strip planted with a biodiverse  mixture of species, from 79 towards the corner of Douglas Haigh Street with Woronora Pde.  This would effectively screen a view of a fence and into backyards providing a more aesthetic solution for all on the adjoining public land.

Georges River Tree Project


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OFF is a community group trying to maintain and improve the tree canopy and extensive bushy nature of our Region. 

Our latest project. ….Community Tree Watch – working to protect healthy public trees in  Georges River Council Local Government Area from inappropriate removal.  New web pages are under construction.

If you have information  on the topics below please email us at


GOOD GREEN AREAS – A good example of public green space

NOMINATE A TREE – A Significant Tree