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Byron Shire
May 30, 2023

Mayor blamed for failed dog ban

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Tweed’s koala campaigners have launched a scathing attack on mayor Barry Longland for stopping a bid last night to ban dogs from the proposed Kings Forest township of 4,500 homes.
Greens Cr Katie Milne and Cr Gary Bagnall had proposed to overhaul a Tweed Shire Council submission adopted in January allowing pet dogs on the estate, which koala supporters say would spell the death knell for the Tweed’s last remaining coastal koalas, numbering around 140.
Campaigners say a similar ban at Koala Beach near Pottsville gave the iconic marsupial a fighting chance of survival.
Team Koala president Jenny Hayes told Echonetdaily this morning she was bitterly disappointed with the vote, which saw Cr Longland side with the pro-development bloc of Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne to shoot down the move, 3–4.
‘We’ve lost a golden opportunity, because of the mayor, for council to send a strong message to the state government that we’re really concerned about losing our koalas,’ Ms Hayes said.
‘The protected status of the koala has been enhanced in NSW since the developers lodged their plan, so surely that should have been taken that into account, otherwise koalas here are doomed.’
But Cr Longland said the development plans had already been approved ‘without a requirement to ban dogs’ and such a ban would be unable to be enforced.
‘We’re talking about a township of 15,000 people when it’s finished,’ he said, adding that ‘responsible ownership is the way to go’ and his position on the issue had been ‘consistent’.
Ms Hayes disagreed, saying ‘it’s a development that could cater for people who don’t want dogs in the first place, this was a lost chance to make it a really eco-friendly development, world-class if it’s done right, instead of a ghetto.
‘There are so many problems with Kings Forest that still have to be resolved. It’s a development that could cater for people who don’t want dogs in the first place; it was a lost chance to make it a really eco-friendly development, world class if it’s done right, instead of a ghetto.
‘Cr Longland has been exposed as a big hypocrite by his vote last night on this issue. He voted for no dogs in January and in 2009 voted for koala-friendly development in the shire. I’ve got all the clippings.
‘He can’t even get his facts straight and said Dr Frank Carrick had done the Kings Forest koala plan of management when in fact the revised adopted plan was compiled by James Warren.
‘Carrick’s first report called for no dogs over 10kg, but the developers dismissed that, using James Warren’s plan instead, which proposed a fence around Cudgen Nature Reserve to stop koalas roaming onto roads or from domestic dogs going into the known koala habitat and killing them.
‘But the problem is not so much road safety, but the dogs can get over or through the fence.
‘These councillors supporting dogs there will have blood on their hands when the first koalas die from pet-dog attacks at Kings Forest.’
The previous pro-development majority on council, which included Crs Polglase and Youngblutt, controversially overturned a staff recommendation for dog bans on the estate.
The final draft of the plans for first stage of the massive development is expected to go on public exhibition next month.

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  1. The insanity that the Greens proposal represented staggered the imagination and was redolent of the kind of lunatic approach to conservation that the Liberals try to paint the Greens as representing. The Labor support of it was surprising and warrants ongoing scrutiny. Barry, you may have let a dog park get shut in South Tweed in favour of a children’s playground but with this move you have you have redeemed yourself. Lets hope sufficient, high quality off leash areas are part of the development.

    • There is a distinct air of fundamentalim in this debate. The prophetc statements about “blood on your hands” with the “first deaths” evoke old testament and armageddon like images as though there is only one right way to manage the issue and the koala groups know what it is. This is likely because what is being argued for by the Greens and Koala conservationist groups is more a social vision (of a particularly extreme nature) than any meaningful attempt at finding a solution.

      The religious overtones of these whack jobs is basically a puritanical rejection of difference, a new form of environmental chauvinism that’s intolerance of others is quite disturbing. To assert that places where dogs are allowed to live are ghettos, as distinct from the utopian realisation of “world class” eco achievements (paradise), illustrates how what is really at stake for these groups is the imposition of a very particular view of human society that is redolent of much extremist right wing puritanical thinking.

      The benefits that dogs bring to human lives are invaluable and their companionship essential for many people. To approach the issue from such a fundamentally limited way is disturbing and demonstrates that these people aren’t about the Koalas they are about some twisted millenarian fantasy.

      What an Irony that the “champions” of the Koalas are in fact their worst enemy as they have insufficient imagination to actually help the poor Koalas. What a quandry and what a pity for Koala coservation.

      • Feral dogs, not pet dogs, are the real problem for Koalas and in the 40 years of living in the Tweed they have always been a problem. Council and Koala conservation groups need to look at feral dogs (and cats). Also have the developers design the area to have dog proof sanctuaries that are interconnected with dog proof corridors. Landscape the area with raised walls that can be planted with orchids and ferns that dogs can’t get up but Koalas can and are directed to follow for food and procreation etc etc.

  2. As long as people and governments make thoughtless stupid decisions such as this, Koalas and all native animals are doomed to extinction.

  3. Disappointed to read Mayor Barry Longland did not support a very reasonable push by Council members Gary Bagnall, Katie Milne and Michael Armstrong for Kings Forest to ban dogs in the development. Koalas, endangered in our area, just received another terrible blow.

    The proposal to ban dogs was not anti-dogs or anti-dog-owner. Instead, it was pro-koala, an endangered species in this region. There are plenty of places in our community where people can live with dogs. The Councillors were just seeking to create one place which put wildlife ahead of pets in an effort to address the imbalance in the development going on in the shire.

    I applaud the efforts of those who tried to make this change and encourage them to keep trying where ever and when ever they can.

    As for Barry Longland, he has let down those who voted for him as a moderate option in the election. He has shown he has limited, if any, foresight for the future of the of shire. This and his deciding vote to bring McDonalds to Murwillumbah shows us he cares little for developing a positive, engaging and sustainable culture and heritage for our shire.


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