Singh supports Gulaptis’ koala crossbench threat ‘100%’
NORTH COAST: Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh has thrown his full support behind Nationals colleague Chris Gulaptis' threat to move to the crossbench over new koala-saving regulations from Liberal Planning Minister Rob Stokes.
The Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Policy has increased the number of species that trigger koala checks and restrictions on land use from 10 to 123, and expands the responsibility of landholders to conduct costly koala assessments.
"I won't stand by and see regional communities and livelihoods decimated over something that won't save koalas anyway," Mr Gulaptis told the Daily Telegraph.
"My position is I would not be part of the government if this goes ahead - I would still be a member of the Nationals and I would sit on the cross bench."
In a move that threatens to derail the coalition, Mr Singh did not rule out joining Mr Gulaptis on the crossbench should a compromise not be reached.
"I'm with Chris Gulaptis one hundred per cent on this one," Mr Singh said.
"We're both on the same page with this. This is not a good policy in our view.
"For instance the (new) roundabout in the middle of Grafton would've been protected as a core koala habitat. We think that goes too far.
"We've been working with the relevant ministers to try and come to a solution that actually looks at the science behind protecting our koalas," Mr Singh said.
"We've got a thriving regional community. We are not just Sydney's biodiversity offset. We need to protect the interests of those communities, and that includes people who are building new homes, people developing agricultural land and also our timber industry."