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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Longland sitting on fence over koalas

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Tweed mayor Barry Longland told us he was now one of the four progressives in council that were all going to work together. What happened?

At the last council meeting I witnessed him voting in bloc with the three pro-development councillors on many occasions. Cr Milne proposed some measures to protect Kings Forest koalas (writing to the minister of planning expressing concerns for koalas, reminding him of council’s 2009 resolutions and original advice from Dept Environment in 2006 to exclude Cudgen Paddock and the eastern side, expressing councillors’ non-support of dogs in Kings Forest, requesting best practices including specialist advice on improved sustainability outcomes in light of Tweed’s national and international environmental significance).

Mayor Longland voted against this critical motion so it looks like we don’t have four progressive councillors, only three – Cr Katie Milne, Cr Gary Bagnall and Cr Michael Armstrong.

I speak for thousands of koala-loving residents in Tweed when I say that we are all so disappointed. I really thought he meant what he said at election time about being concerned about the Three Es – Economy, Efficiency and the Environment. What happened to the Environment part of that formula?

He also said he would vote as he did at the last council vote on such a ban in January, which he supported at the time.

It appears that Mayor Longland is not a man of his word.

As for being a ‘middle-of-the-road man’ I’d say he is more a ‘sit-on-the-fence man’ as he can’t seem to make up his mind about which side of the fence he is on, pro-development or pro-sustainable development.

Tough for the koalas. They need every bit of help they can get. Cr Byrne claimed that domestic dogs are not a threat to koalas, only bushfires, cars, wild dogs and large dogs. If she searched a bit harder she would discover that Dr Steve Phillips said ‘there is no such thing as a koala-friendly dog’. As Cr Bagnall said, it only takes one bite from a dog (small or large) to kill a koala as they have no antibodies against dog saliva. Cr Bagnall also wisely reminded us that wild dogs were formerly domestic dogs owned by irresponsible people.

To rely on new Kings Forest residents being responsible pet owners is a unrealistic considering how few responsible pet owners exist in the wider community. Mayor Longland said he could not support a dog ban because it could not be enforced – well neither can responsible pet ownership!

Surely in these times when we are down to the last remaining koalas on the coast, we should be doing everything in our power to protect them. We cannot stop cars (as Cr Byrne suggested), neither can we stop the developer plonking 15,000 people on the last bastion for koalas, Kings Forest. Cr Milne was just asking for some last-ditch measures to protect our remaining koalas. Is that asking too much? Or are koalas less important than people’s convenience and developers’ profit?

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