'It's not an isolated incident, just the worst of a range of incidents': Barnaby Joyce on Mr Turner's death.
'It's not an isolated incident, just the worst of a range of incidents': Barnaby Joyce on Mr Turner's death. Photo: Marina Neil

The family of an NSW environment compliance officer killed in
the line of duty, Glen Turner, has decried potential changes to land
clearing laws and says it is "appalled" by a push to reduce penalties
for impeding the work of those enforcing them.

In an emotional submission to an independent review of land
clearing laws ordered by the state government, the Turner family also
criticises the responses of senior Nationals MPs to Mr Turner's death in
July after he was allegedly shot by Moree farmer Ian Turnbull, who has
been charged with murder.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the laws "have been a sore
point in farming communities", while federal Agriculture Minister
Barnaby Joyce said the shooting "is not an isolated incident, this is
just the worst of a range of incidents".

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner.
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner. Photo: James Brickwood

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser said the "tragic" death was "brought about by bad legislation".

The Turners say the comments "exhibited a degree of vitriol
and contempt for existing law, that has no place in a tolerant
democratic society".

"Given that this review into the vegetation laws was already
under way and taking submissions, their comments were highly
inappropriate, inexcusable and the source of great hurt to Glen's
immediate and extended family, friends and associates," they say.

Shot dead: Glen Turner.
Shot dead: Glen Turner. Photo: Supplied

The submission came as the Office of Environment and Heritage
revealed that compliance officers were once again on the Turnbull
family's properties at Croppa Creek on Wednesday, investigating further
illegal land clearing.

The alleged clearing on "Colorado", owned by Mr Turnbull's
son, Grant, continued up until August, after the alleged murder, said
Terry Bailey, chief executive of the OEH.

He said up to 500 hectares of clearing was under
investigation, some of which was land set aside for remediation by a
court following previous illegal clearing.

The family members say they find themselves "in a most difficult position" in making the submission to the review.

"As you would understand, our loss is at times unbearable, our need for quiet solace paramount," the submission says.

"However, given Glen's passion for his family, his farm and
his day-to-day job as a compliance officer with the NSW Office of
Environment and Heritage, we feel the need in his memory to place a
submission before you."

Their submission raises concerns about a loosening of
existing legislation that would "have a negative impact on those matters
which lay at the heart of Glen's work as an environment officer".

"We refer in particular to the possibility of landholders
being granted permission to cause irreparable damage to land by means of
broadscale land clearing, resulting in degradation of water quality,
biodiversity, salinity, erosion and loss of our fragile topsoil."

Given the circumstances of Mr Turner's death, the family says
it was "appalled" to discover a Shooters and Fishers Party bill that
proposes a reduction in the maximum penalty for obstructing the work of a
compliance officer from $11,000 to $1100.

"There can be no better illustration of the lack of respect
for compliance officers and the laws they enforce (and, by implication,
the environment) than this proposal to downgrade the penalties for
non-compliance," the family says.

They suggest the panel considers increasing the maximum penalty, possibly to a jail term.

The panel is due to report to Environment Minister Rob Stokes next month. 

With Rachel Olding