Forest protesters confront Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey at Coffs Harbour Showground.
Forest protesters confront Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey at Coffs Harbour Showground.

Koalas catch up with pollies to call for better protection

KOALA activists confronted NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet when he visited Coffs Harbour Showground yesterday.

He was accompanied by Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh to open more than $300,000 in upgrades to the showground.

It was a busy day for Mr Perrottet with several announcements across the region but one of the protesters was pleasantly surprised with his reaction.

Coffs Harbour Greens Convener, Jonathan Cassell was there to call on politicians to protect koala habitat by formalising the Great Koala National Park and to subsidise farmers to protect koala habitat.

"Mr Perrottet is an important person in the NSW Government and the future of the koala is in his government's hands," Mr Cassell said.

He listened to his concerns before a second group of protesters interrupted.

"The discussion with Mr Perrottet was surprisingly long lasting and then behind us a second large group of protesters dressed in koala suits descended on the media conference."

The group started to follow the Minister inside the Showground before they were forced back outside.

Mr Cassell managed to get inside the front office and was standing next to Mr Perrottet who remained calm as the protesters continued to disrupt media proceedings but he was particularly disappointed by Mr Singh who ignored the protesters.

"Why not air the protesters concerns and let the minister address them. I'm staggered that Mr Singh wouldn't want to talk to people from his electorate who are clearly concerned about the welfare of koalas."

Forest protesters confront Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey at Coffs Harbour Showground.
Forest protesters confront Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey at Coffs Harbour Showground.

But Mr Singh was keen to push on with the nature of the visit and outline the recent upgrades at the showground.

"Our showground is a multi-use hub for everything from the annual show to dance groups, exhibitions, training seminars and private functions including weddings, so this upgrade work will benefit many people," Mr Singh said.

The upgrades include:

- $130,141 to replace almost 500 square metres of roofing on the Norm Jordan Pavilion and for the installation of new industrial airconditioning;

- $106,954 for the construction of a 11m x 15.4m room for training seminars and meetings and for use by community groups including dance and physical culture groups;

- $48,240 to upgrade the showground's northern gate entrance road;

- $5,450 for a new stormwater pipe underneath the road; and

- $12,607 to install new CCTV.

Coffs Harbour showground manager Steve Sullivan said the upgrades had made a massive improvement to the ground's amenities.

"It's a joy to have our assets lifted in quality and usability and this investment shows our showground will be here forever," Mr Sullivan said.

Forest protesters confront Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey at Coffs Harbour Showground.
Forest protesters confront Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey at Coffs Harbour Showground.

Greens say changes will supercharge clearing

The Greens have accused the Nationals of regulatory failure and say that changes to the Local Land Services Bill 2020 will supercharge land clearing.

NSW Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann said last week that community hopes that NSW koalas would recover from their prolonged decline have been massively set back by new laws introduced into parliament this week.

"The Bill decouples private native forestry and land clearing laws from the planning system, which is against what previous reviews recommended. Its quite extraordinary that the Liberals have capitulated to the Nationals so much.

Mr Cassell hopes that his interruption of today's announcement alerts Mr Perrottet to the concerns that other members of the Coffs Harbour community have regarding the fate of koalas in NSW.