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Seven critical seats to save the koala

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koala-pic-1200pxDeborah Tabart OAM, the CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), believes the winners of seven critical seats in this coming election will seal the fate of the koala.

The seats of Corangamite, Flynn, Indi, Maranoa, Mayo, Murray and Wannon are the only seats in Australia with more than 5,000 koalas left, while another nine electorates – Ballarat, Capricornia, Cowper, Fadden, Gippsland, Lyne, McEwen, New England and Parkes – have potentially sustainable populations but still have around only 1,000 animals.

‘In our latest assessment based on $8m worth of research, the AKF has identified how many koalas and how much habitat remains in each federal electorate. I have also written a personal comment for each candidate stating what I think is going on. The results scared even me and I deal with these issues every day and have done so for 25 years,’ Ms Tabart said.

‘Our country has a shocking history of species extinction and managing the environment. Our governments struggle with the complexity and don’t cope or, worse still, don’t want to cope. This is highlighted by their lack of knowledge and opinions on current numbers, which can all be reviewed on our Act or Axe website.

‘This is why we need a nationwide Koala Protection Act to protect the koala and its habitat. With Kevin Rudd in an electorate where the koala is extinct, mainly owing to the Queensland fur trade whereby 800,000 were killed in 1927, it is only a matter of time before more electorates fall. The Labor premier Wayne Goss underestimated the ‘fur factor’ and it is time to remind ourselves of his past advisers, Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan. I sometimes wonder whether the koala has powerful enemies with long memories.

‘It is ironic to me that our election falls on the same date the last Tasmanian tiger died in 1936. His name was Ben and his species was only protected by a careless government three months before his passing. I wonder if our current government will care for the koala before it’s too late,’ Ms Tabart said.

There are 127 electorates that are in the koala’s original geographic range and the AKF has a considered opinion on each of them. On the Australian Koala Foundation’s Act or Axe page you can read what our scientists and the Koala Woman think of each electorate.

For the complete transcript of Deborah’s comments refer to Deborah’s most recent diary entry at Deborah’s Diary.

The Australian Koala Foundation is a not-for-profit, non-government-funded international organisation dedicated to saving the koala and its habitat.

See the Echo’s full election coverage on the page Election 2013

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