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Byron Shire
August 4, 2021

Mayor dogged by koala comments

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Tweed mayor Barry Longland recently wrote a letter to the editor saying ‘the developer [of Kings Forest] sought a supplementary report from local ecologist and renowned koala expert, Dr Stephen Phillips… the Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) submitted with the Project Application and supported by the reports of both James Warren and Stephen Phillips did not recommend a ban on dogs in the development… the Stephen Phillips report also raised issues about dog size recommending a 10kg limit on dogs… three respected koala experts have not called for a ban on dogs.’

To my knowledge Steve Phillips has never written a report that contradicted his publicly stated views about dogs’ impact on koalas. I clearly heard him say to the JRPP in May 2011 regarding the Cobaki Lakes development (by the same developer), ‘There is no such thing as a koala-friendly dog’. That includes dogs under 10kg. Therefore why would he support a KPoM that did not have a dog ban in place? He didn’t. The developer’s ecologist writing the KPoM, Frank Carrick, did.

The mayor should correct his inaccurate statements to the media or lose credibility. His decision to support dogs at Kings Forest comes at a critical time right before minister Tony Burke is to decide on a controlled action requiring a new KPoM, based on the latest decision by the minister to declare koalas in NSW threatened and also the council’s nomination to the NSW Scientific Committee to declare Tweed coast koalas endangered. If there is no controlled action then our coastal koalas will be finished. They desperately need every bit of protection they can get right now.

Since council staff recommends against dogs at Kings Forest, he cannot claim to follow their advice consistently.

The mayor’s only hope for redemption is if there is an urgent rescission motion and he votes against a dog ban. Otherwise he will have driven the last nail into the koalas’ coffin and must live with the knowledge for the rest of his life that he was responsible for the localised extinction of one of the gentlest and most beautiful creatures on the planet. What an embarrassment and shame!

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