Berejiklian Government lets NSW koalas die out - five years with no plan to save them

In Parliament | 12.03.18

The NSW Opposition is calling on the Berejiklian Government to immediately release the much delayed NSW Koala Strategy.

For five years NSW has been without a plan to save the koalas, with the proposed replacement plan gathering dust.

Scientists are warning that on current trends the iconic koala is on track for extinction in NSW by 2055.

Last week, marked one year since consultation closed for a proposed ‘NSW Koala Strategy’, but the strategy has still not been released. The previous plan, the NSW Koala Recovery Plan that was developed under the previous Labor government, lapsed in 2013.

The Government’s own 2016 report from the NSW Chief Scientist found that the state’s koala population has dropped by a quarter over the last 20 years, down from a population of millions at the time of European settlement. The state is now home to fewer than ten percent of the nation’s koalas, with just 36,000 remaining in the wild.

Similarly, last year WWF-Australia reported that koala numbers in the Pilliga have dropped by a staggering 80 per cent since the 1990s; in the south-east, there are thought to be fewer than 60 koalas left; while west of the Great Dividing Range, 90 per cent of known populations are in decline.

Since 2011 the NSW Government has done more to harm koalas than save them, including:

  • Introducing land clearing laws that could see eight million hectares of core koala habitat destroyed;
  • Signing off on clearing codes that will only protect one per cent of koala habitat from land clearing;
  • Selling off core koala habitat to developers for $250,000 at the Mambo Wetlands in Port Stephens;
  • Directing the route of the Pacific Highway Upgrade at Ballina through core koala habitat;
  • Refusing to support the Great Koala National Park, instead calling it “a political gimmick”;
  • Allowing housing development in core koala habitat in the Macarthur region and including the upgrade of Picton Road without protections for the only chlamydia-free koala population in NSW;
  • Carting off koalas in sacks from the Liverpool Plains to make way for the Shenhua coal mine; and
  • Allowing logging operations that do not properly take into account koalas in state forests, with further weakening of the protections currently in place.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe 

“NSW needs a Koala Recovery Plan and it needs one now. What further proof does this weak, feckless government need to take action to save our koalas? 

“The Government hasn’t had a koala plan for five years, yet as the evidence mounts of koalas heading towards extinction, the Government sits on its hands and drives our koalas further towards extinction. 

“When future generations ask who killed off the koalas of New South Wales, the answer will be the Liberals and Nationals of the 2010s.”