Why do the Nationals want to kill Koalas?

MEDIA RELEASE - 17 September 2020

According to the North East Forest Alliance the National Party has been intentionally misleading the community over their attacks on the Koala SEPP as decisions had already been made months before to abandon the maps and exclude logging and landclearing, making it perplexing as to what truly motivated their actions.

"With 61% of the north coast's 'likely' Koala habitat remaining on private lands, and probably less than 6,000 Koalas left, we cannot save the Koala from extinction without protecting its core habitat on private lands, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

"It is extremely concerning that the National's attacks on Koala protections have been based on misinformation.

"In a letter sent to the Nationals leader Barilaro on 21 August Rob Stokes1 informed him that the 'Pink DA map'2 would be removed and they would 'revert to a survey process which existed under SEPP 44'.

"The decision to abandon this map had been made months previously as the Koala Strategy Board Meeting of 28 May 20203 was informed of this intent.

"This is the Koala Development Application Map which simply triggered the need for Koala assessments when submitting Development Applications.

"Given that the Nationals knew the map would no longer be used they have been deliberately misleading the community by making this mapping the focus of their attacks on the SEPP.

"Stokes also informed the Nationals on 21 August that "Planning officials would welcome the opportunity" to exclude land clearing and logging from the ambit of the Koala SEPP, meaning that core Koala habitat identified in a Koala Plan of Management would no longer require approval to be extensively cleared and can be logged.

"When core Koala Habitat is mapped in a KPoM it is included as Sensitive Protected Land under the Local Land Services Act 2013, which means that approval is required for extensive clearing. And since 2007 mapped core Koala Habitat has been protected from logging under the Private Native Forestry Code.

"There are a whole raft of routine agricultural activities that are still allowed without approval, such as clearing within 6m of tracks and fences, and clearing for 'sustainable grazing'.

"It is important to recognise that Timber NSW have focussed their attack on the SEPP using misleading claims that routine agricultural activities would no longer be excluded, when really their intent has been to ensure that core Koala habitat is no longer protected from logging.

"Before their threat to bring down the Government the National Party seem to have succeeded is excluding land-clearing and logging from the ambit of the Koala SEPP, so that only leaves development as the real target of heir revolt.

"The revelation4 that the only representation that John Barilaro has raised with planning Minister Rob Stokes is from a Newcastle property developer with multiple residential developments on the edges of towns including Maitland, Lismore and Armidale says a lot about the National's true motivations for their belated attack on Koalas.

"Now that the map of likely Koala habitat has been thrown out and core Koala habitat mapped by Council's will no longer apply to logging operations and land clearing, if the Koala is to be saved it is essential that the NSW Government step up and undertake urgent and accurate mapping of core Koala habitat itself for application across NSW", Mr. Pugh said.

FOR COMMENT: Dailan Pugh 66 807063, 0400711054

  1. Letter from Stokes to Barilaro Sydney Morning Herald 14 September 2020.
  2. This is the ' Koala Development Application Map which was intended to fill the gap until core Koala habitat is mapped by a Council n a Koala Plan of Management. This map of likely Koala habitat was intended to simplify the DA process by making it clearer when Koalas were required to be considered in a DA process (in mapped areas) and when they weren't (unmapped areas), It was then up to the developer to assess whether core Koala habitat was present..
  3. EES Koala Strategy Board Meeting 24 - Minutes, Monday 28 May 2020, released under parliamentary 'call for papers'.
  4. The Guardian, 16 September 2020.

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