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Byron Shire
September 24, 2021

MPs urge sports-field relocation to protect Tweed koalas

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NSW Greens MPs Dawn Walker, left, and Dr Mareen Faruqi inspecting the Black Rocks sports field site at Pottsville where koalas are threatened.
NSW Greens MPs Dawn Walker, left, and Dr Mareen Faruqi inspecting the Black Rocks sports field site at Pottsville where koalas are threatened.

The NSW Greens have called for bipartisan support to relocate the controversial sports field at Black Rocks in Pottsville in order to ensure the survival of Tweed Coast’s dwindling koala population.

NSW Greens MPs Dawn Walker and Dr Mehreen Faruqi made the call while inspecting the sports field site this week and meeting locals.

The two called on Labor and the Nationals to join the Greens and ensure the survival of the endangered Tweed Coast koala colonies.

‘The Pottsville koala colony at Black Rocks is part of an endangered population on the Tweed-Byron Coast with fewer than 100 individual koalas left,’ Ms Walker, the Greens’ north coast spokesperson, said.

‘The situation is urgent with scientists predicting that Tweed Coast koalas will be extinct by 2025-2030.

‘The Black Rocks koala colony is critical to the survival of the koala on the Tweed Coast, yet Labor and the Nationals have joined forces to allow this highly sensitive area to be used by noisy model airplane enthusiasts, sporting groups and a men’s shed when there are better sites closer to the Pottsville town for these activities that won’t disturb our sensitive koalas.

‘We’re concerned that local sports users are being used to push for bigger plans to open up area to further development, as Pottsville faces increasing urban pressure.

‘The Greens are calling on the parliamentary secretary for northern NSW, Ben Franklin and Labor’s shadow minister for the north coast, Walt Secord, to stop just talking about koalas and actually intervene to save this endangered koala population,’ Ms Walker said.

Dr Faruqi, the Greens environment spokesperson, said that across NSW, koalas were facing unprecedented threats.

‘Koala numbers are plummeting and here on the north coast there has been a huge decline over the last 20 years,’ she said.

‘Local communities shouldn’t be forced to choose between recreational facilities and having a local koala population.

‘With creative thinking and resources, Pottsville can have both. We need to find solutions that meet community needs and protect prime koala habitat like this wildlife corridor in Pottsville.

‘It’s time to get serious about koala conservation. We are looking at potential localised extinction of koalas in this area.

‘If Labor and the Nationals want any credibility when it comes to protecting koalas in NSW, they’d get behind the community campaign to revegetate this precious wildlife corridor and find an alternate site for sports users in Pottsville,’  Dr Faruqi said.

At the time of going to press today, both Mr Franklin and Mr Secord failed to respond to requests to comment on the issue.


Responding to enquires from The Echo Natioanls MLC, Ben Franklin said:

‘The Liberal and National Government is committed to coordinating efforts to stabilise and ultimately increase the numbers of koalas.

‘That’s why we’ve started developing a whole-of-government koala strategy, as recommended by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane AC.

‘This strategy will complement the koala conservation work already being done under the NSW Government’s $100 million Saving our Species program.

‘Last year we also committed to investing $10 million over five years to acquire vital koala habitat.’

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  1. We tried everything to protect this threatened koala population. Very difficult when the majority of Tweed Shire Councillors, Labors Justine Elliot, Nationals Geoff Provest and the redneck pro-development at any cost residents do not care in the slightest about the plight of the coastal koala population. The mens shed has commenced making way for further development and linking up with Dunloe park. Good luck to the Greens and the koalas…….

  2. This is what we’ve been saying for years …. it’s as clear as the nose on our face.
    Pity these two wonderful politicians didn’t speak up before the men’s shed was approved.
    Still, the insane level of loud activities at the sports field could and should urgently be stopped. But that depends on council doing something about it but first they have to acknowledge the impact of human noise and disturbance on chlamydia in koalas, which they appear to be totally ignorant about.
    Also council should be putting in an underpass on Coronation Drive as they could have last year instead of painting signs on the road ‘Koala Crossing.’

  3. It’s sad that it’s come to State MPs feeling the need to intervene this way to try to mitigate the damage done by grossly irresponsible Tweed Shire councillors (past and present). So-called ”progressive” councillors not only permitted the Sports Ground in an obviously unsuitable location – and not just on environmental grounds, but for convenience and human safety – but permitted a Men’s Shed in the most absurdly unsuitable location, despite massive opposition, and despite pleas for support to address gross dishonesty, unlawful conduct, and bullying that has caused serious harm to many men the Shed should be helping.

    Along with these councillors, the Men’s Shed executive should be condemned for the extreme arrogance, and lack of concern for it’s stated objectives that drove outright refusal to even properly consider superior alternatives, refusal to pursue the recommended and appropriate course for finding a location, lies about the pros and cons of sites and the existence of other options, and contempt for the welfare of the many men who are now unable to access the benefits of the Shed.

    Council has been cautioned, in writing, that it has created a major human safety risk, but apparently that is of as little concern to the so-called ”progressives” as the environment and our precious koala population.

    All who supported the Men’s Shed locating at the Sports Field have shown outright contempt for the taxpayers who contribute millions to State and Federal Government koala protection programs; for the taxpayers who contribute hundreds of thousands to programs to support Men’s mental health (programs that should rightly be accessible to ALL men) and for donors who unwillingly or unknowingly funded construction in a hard to access and unsafe location that excludes men who desperately need the facility.

    Both the State and Federal MPs for Tweed, sadly, failed the populace – in particular the State Member who stated that there were multiple site choices worthy of consideration but failed to provide a list, then made false public statements in support of irresponsible progressive councillors.

    It sadly seems to me unlikely the NSW Greens will succeed in securing bi-partisan support, but their call will provide valuable information for voters who care about the environment, our natural resources, our children’s future, human safety, and the welfare of ALL men who need what Men’s Sheds SHOULD provide.

  4. The major point here is the “potential for localised extinction of koalas in this area”
    The koalas in this area are listed as “ENDANGERED”

    The Pottsville koalas are critical to the survival of the entire Tweed Coast population
    This is common knowledge
    However – the argument was intentionally warped into a “choice between recreational facilities & having a local koala population” This was done by a few for the selfish interests of a few Tweed Coast residents.

    The broad population was never asked what they valued regarding the location of a sportsfield & it’s relationship to the predicament of our koala population.
    The facts were never broadcast properly but were instead buried in an artificial conflict of one side against the other – koalas vs Our great Aussie right to Sport! – & guess who won?
    Not very sporting at all………


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