WAR ON KOALAS: Nature council slams Gulaptis’ stance
THE Nature Conservation Council claims a stand by Member for Clarence and the National Party will guarantee the demise of the koala in our state.
It comes after Mr Gulaptis revolted against the government’s new koala plan, with plans to sit on the crossbench if the plan was enacted.
He was joined in the stance by Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh and other prominent members of the National Party.
Mr Gulaptis said he did not support the new Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) that was introduced by the NSW Government in March of this year.
“I love koalas just like everybody else, but I can’t support a policy that targets rural industries and decimates regional communities without protecting koalas,” he said.
“The new SEPP is ill-founded and essentially determines every part of NSW is koala habitat. It essentially sterlises all private land in regional NSW as koala habitat with the onus put on the landowner to undertake an ecological study to prove otherwise.”
Mr Gulaptis said it was ironic that koalas continue to exist in regional areas where they have been protected for the past 200 years, and now regional people are being dictated to best protect this iconic species by a policy developed in the city, where koala colonies have been annihilated.
“I will not be a part of a government that is responsible for destroying rural businesses, throwing country workers on the scrapheap and killing regional communities,” he said.
However Nature Conservation Council CEO Chris Gambian said the government should consider strengthening the laws, not abolishing them.
“On current trends, koalas are on track to become extinct in NSW by 2050,” he said.
“The laws that Mr Gulaptis wants to tear up were drafted well before the summer bushfires, which killed thousands, wiped out local populations and pushed many others closer to extinction.”
Mr Gambian said Mr Gulaptis’ threat to sit on the crossbench if the government didn’t scrap koala protections was the latest in a series of attacks by National MPs on koalas.
“Nationals leader John Barilaro has aggressively pushed to continue logging koala forests after the bushfires destroyed millions of hectares of prime habitat,” Mr Gambian said.
“Several forests on the North Coast that were among the last unburned koalas forests in the state have been targeted by Forestry Corporation for intensive logging with the State Government’s blessing.
“The Nationals are also behind moves to slash and burn national parks and allow cows to trample conservation reserves.
“If we want our children and grandchildren to see koalas in the wild, we have to stop destroying their forests.
“If Mr Gulaptis and John Barilaro get their way, the demise of the koala is guaranteed to happen even faster than projected.”