Labor moves in Parliament to stop destruction of North Coast koala habitat

In Parliament | 15.11.17

Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe yesterday presented a motion to the NSW Parliament condemning the failure of the Berejiklian Government to implement proper protections for the koala population impacted by the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade project. 

Ms Sharpe used the motion to outline serious concerns for koalas following a recent severe and extensive wildfire in the area in September, shortly after koala exclusion fencing was installed in July. 

Reports indicate that the fire burned 320 hectares of native vegetation over two days on 4 and 5 September 2017, including up to the south-eastern edge of the fencing, resulting in extensive loss of koala habitat while the fencing may have trapped koalas fleeing the fire. 

This situation is compounded by clearing of koala habitat occurring in the Pacific Highway Upgrade corridor, with associated human and machinery disturbance to the koala population. 

Local wildlife groups and ecologists have raised concerns that these developments have exposed the koala population to loss of food and shelter trees, noise, dust, starvation, dehydration, predation and stress – yet after requests by these groups for meetings and actions to address the situation, nothing has been heard from the Government. 

The motion calls on the Government to demonstrate to the community, ecologists and koala wildlife protectors how the current work will be altered to ensure that the Ballina Koala population is not further harmed in the construction of the Pacific Highway Upgrade. 

Ms Sharpe plans to bring the motion back to the floor of Parliament for debate as soon as possible.* 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe 

“We are witnessing the creeping destruction of prime habitat affecting a nationally significant population of koalas, brought to you by the Berejiklian Government.

“It is a total failure of environmental responsibility from the Government, made worse by their arrogant response ignoring to the concerns of the local community. 

“The Government’s approach to this road project has all the hallmarks of their usual philosophy when it comes to the protecting the environment: ‘ignore the science, develop and clear, and ask questions later.’ 

“The only proper response for the Government now is to demonstrate to the community, ecologists and koala wildlife protectors how the current works will be altered to ensure that the Ballina koala population is not further harmed.”

 

*see full text of motion below

 

 Notice of Motion, Penny Sharpe MLC, NSW Legislative Council on 14 November 2017

 

1. That this House notes that: 

(a)    as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade project, koala exclusion fencing was installed in July 2017 by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) along 700 metres of Old Bagotville Road near Wardell, 

(b)    following the installation of the exclusion fencing, a severe and extensive wildfire occurred to the south east of the road, burning approximately 320 hectares of native vegetation over two days on 4 and 5 September 2017, including up to the south-eastern edge of the exclusion fencing, resulting in extensive loss of koala habitat, 

(c)     in addition, clearing of koala habitat is currently occurring in the Pacific Highway upgrade corridor, with food and shelter trees being removed and associated human and machinery disturbance to the local koala population, 

(d)    local wildlife groups and ecologists have raised concerns that these developments have exposed the koala population to loss of food and shelter trees, noise, dust, starvation, dehydration, predation and stress, and 

(e)    representations and meeting requests have been sent by local groups to the Premier, the Minister for Roads, and the Minister for the Environment, to discuss the plight of this koala population, but the Government has failed to respond.

2. That this House condemns the negligent actions of the RMS in failing to implement proper protection for the koala population in Ballina.
 
3. That this House calls on the RMS to demonstrate to the community, ecologists and koala wildlife protectors how the current work will be altered to ensure that the Ballina Koala population is not further harmed in the construction of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

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