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Byron Shire
January 17, 2022

Developers win when koalas lose

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In January 2015, in the lead up to Australia Day celebrations, the Tweed Shire became witness to the reasoning of why our nation has the worst extinction rate globally.

The science is now confirmed, our Tweed Coast koalas are on the brink of extinction – we are at the last throw of the dice.

Our shire’s elected representatives have a duty of care under their own adopted charter to ‘properly manage, develop, protect, restore, enhance and conserve the environment…to have regard to the long-term and cumulative effects of its decisions’.

Obligations under state legislation are to ‘prevent the extinction and promote the recovery of threatened species’. Our koalas are ‘matters of national environmental significance’ and obligations under Commonwealth legislation are to ‘protect native species and in particular prevent the extinction’.

I do not believe our elected representatives are exempt from their obligations under these laws – nor do I believe we have the right to wipe out our native indigenous species.

Despite the facts of the serious status of our koalas, our Aussie icon, the majority of our representatives were hell bent on defying their obligations and refused to at least take the precautionary approach to protect our last remaining coastal koalas from extinction.

Following council’s own ‘Koala Habitat Study’, the recommendations of their own ‘Koala Advisory Committee’ to install a koala/dog-proof gate to the Black Rocks sports field, and now after a fire that has substantially impacted on vital habitat now requiring greater protection measures for the koalas, the majority of our representatives resolved to remove the gate with a very late notice to replace it with a koala grid and then refused the opportunity to properly consider the grid and seek sound expert professional advice on the cumulative and long-term impacts on this current situation/site.

A grid (dogs known to cross) will leave this area of critical importance to the survival of the koalas open slather to improper/illegal activities, not only to protected habitat  but also the sports field.

What has slipped off the radar for some is the fact after years of study/research/review the ‘NSW Scientific Committee’ has determined our coastal koalas ‘is facing a very high risk of extinction in the near future’.

The only winners in eradicating our koalas (to some a hindrance to development) are the developers – not our koalas, not our community, not our tourist industry, not our children/grandchildren and not our future generations.

Lindy Smith, Tweed Heads

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