Jobs hope emerges for koala park proposal
THE University of Newcastle is undertaking a study to determine the true number of jobs that will be created if the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) was established.
Bellingen Shire Council, Coffs Harbour City Council and Destination North Coast agreed to allocate $25,000 each to fund the economic study.
The study will also compare these GKNP jobs with the number of Forestry Corporation jobs currently in the region.
"I'm happy to have this conversation of the benefits of the Great Koala National Park versus logging because it is blatantly obvious one outweighs the other," Bellingen Shire Mayor Dominic King said while attending a protest outside the Forestry Corporation building in Coffs Harbour this week.
The GKNP steering committee had previously stated that locals working in forestry would be re-employed to work in similar positions for the GKNP.
"The Nationals party talk about jobs - ask all those people from the national parks who got laid off two years ago," Mr King said.
"Ask all the farmers who have had their farms taken over by multinational agricultural companies, and ask all those farmers in areas where there are coalmines going up - a highly mechanised industry.
"So The Nationals want to talk about jobs but not the facts, and the facts are the flow on from the Great Koala National Park to this region will be massive."
This comes off the back of a report released this week by the NSW Upper HouseiInquiry into the state's koala population, which recommended the government to investigate the establishment of the GKNP in the Coffs Harbour hinterland.
The park would incorporate tourist attractions like a koala hospital, bushwalking and mountain biking tracks, and 4WD tours, potentially bringing more than $300 million into the local economy, according to the National Parks Association.
"We've been told very clearly from Destination North Coast that nature-based tourism is the future of this area," Mr King said.
"We need to look after these Forestry workers, we need to give them a way out."