Baird Government not prepared to take tough decisions to save koalas in NSW

In Parliament | 04.12.16

The Baird Government is not prepared to take the hard decisions necessary to save the koala in NSW the Labor Opposition said today. 

Today’s report from the Chief Scientist of NSW reveals that koala numbers have plummeted in recent years. 

There are an estimated 36,000 koalas in NSW today, down from millions at the time of European settlement. 

NSW is today home to fewer than ten percent of the nation’s koalas the Chief Scientist’s report reveals. 

Labor Leader Luke Foley yesterday committed a future Labor Government to prioritise the creation of national parks that protect the remaining koala populations on the North Coast of NSW. 

Labor’s plan would see eucalypt forests and rainforests that are home to significant koala populations assessed for priority additions to the national park estate. 

By contrast, Environment Minister Mark Speakman today would only commit to looking to purchase private properties that are home to koalas. 

Crucially, this plan is entirely voluntary - in other words property owners must be prepared to sell their land to the Government. 

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Opposition Luke Foley MP

“Today’s Chief Scientist report is a wake up call to Government about the plummeting koala numbers in NSW. 

“We face the real prospect of koalas becoming extinct in the wild in our state within the next couple of decades. 

“Saving the koala requires tough decisions. Only Labor is prepared to save the forests that are home to our remaining koala populations. 

“Many of these forests are already owned by the state government - converting them to national parks is what is required to protect the precious habitat for our dwindling koala populations. 

“My challenge to Mr Baird is to adopt Labor’s policy to save the koalas.” 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe MLC

“Koalas in NSW are on the path to extinction. The chief scientist has signalled how serious the threat to koalas in NSW is yet the Government’s response is a long time coming with few firm commitments. 

“The Baird Government is weakening environmental protections, allowing millions of hectares of core koala habitat to be cleared.”