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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Ballina councillors back threatened koalas

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Friends of the Koala with Cr Jeff Johnson outside Ballina Shire Council chambers yesterday.
Members of Save Ballina’s Koalas with Cr Jeff Johnson outside Ballina Shire Council Chambers.

Darcy Garlick-Kelly

Ballina Shire Council (BSC) is urging the state government to reconsider the proposed Pacific Highway upgrade route that threatens over 300 hectares of koala habitat.

The unanimous decision at yesterday’s council meeting for Council to lobby the government to look at other route options is a major win for the Save Ballina’s Koalas campaign in its efforts to protect the nationally significant koala population in the Blackwall Range south of Ballina.

Cr Jeff Johnson put forward the motion, which will see letters written to premier Mike Baird, planning minister Pru Goward, roads minister Duncan Gay, federal environment minister Greg Hunt and the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) in support of a reconsideration of the Pacific Highway upgrade route between Broadwater and Wardell.

Cr Johnson said that to protect this key koala population, ‘the biggest step we can take is to make the state government reconsider the route’.

He also said that if the Pacific Highway route were reconsidered, the area should be made into a koala sanctuary.

Friends of the Koalas president Lorraine Vass welcomed the decision, saying Ballina councillors’ resolve to have the RMS reconsider route options for the section from the Richmond River to Wardell ‘is a significant step in our community campaign to save Ballina’s koalas’.

Ms Vass said koala campaigners were encouraged to see six councillors as well as Cr Johnson speak in support of the motion.

‘Council is reflecting the community’s wishes that the koalas and other threatened species which are found in the Blackwall Range need the highest degree of protection into perpetuity,’ she said.

Crs Keith Williams, Ken Johnston and Sharon Cadwallader all voiced their support for the motion, with Cr Johnston suggesting ‘it is crazy to go ahead’ with a project that endangers a koala population of over 300.

Cr Williams said, ‘It is not a good reason for the state government to proceed owing to bureaucratic inertia, simply because they are locked onto this proposed route’.

Cr Susan Meehan spoke of the state-government-funded study of the area by Dr Steve Phillips released in November 2013,  which found the koala population was a regional source of koala breeding and dispersal.

Cr Meehan said, ‘It is totally appropriate to reconsider the proposed route since the new study has come to light’.

The decision follows previous letters sent by Council to the state government asking for significant protection measures for koalas if the proposed route were to go ahead.

However, this is the first time the Council has supported alternative routes that would reduce the impact on the Blackwall koala population.

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. This is a great way to start a long weekend. Thank you Ballina Shire Council, Cr. Jeff Johnson and Lorraine Vass. If the Federal Government can spend money of war birds and cut expenditures on social services, why not give some back to the federally listed as vulnerable and Australia’s iconic animal the Koala? What is it with the state and federal government wanting to tax the poor and middle class whilst protecting corporations and the upper class. They seem to be trying to extract every resource we have and ship it overseas leaving us with a toxic country from unconventional gas mining, open cut coal mining, uranium mining and killing the worlds largest living organism, The Great Barrier Reef. At least we know where their priorities are and that’s what is so encouraging when local governments stand up for their communities. Well done Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle and Tweed Shires lately on some very contentious issues. I live in Richmond Valley Council area and would like my council to listen to the majority of the community that is opposed to CSG mining. Bravo to the Bentley Protectors for giving us all hope for a future where democracy isn’t a distant memory.

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