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September 27, 2021

Koalas are not political footballs

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Lynette Dickinson, Pottsville

If Labor’s Justine Elliott and Reece Byrnes are genuinely concerned about the welfare of our endangered Tweed Coast koalas, why did they ignore the advice of the koala specialist Dr Steve Phillips who reported to the Environmental Defenders Office on 24/2/2016 that in his opinion ‘there is strong likelihood of a significant impact on the Pottsville Wetlands – Black Rocks local koala population if the proposed action (men’s shed at Black Rocks) was to proceed’?

They advised me that they did not even read Dr Phillips’ report which was provided to them before they backflipped in favour of proceeding with a temporary men’s shed at Black Rocks, rather than waiting another 2-3 weeks for Geoff Provest MP to report on alternative permanent sites.

In turning their backs on the Black Rocks koalas they also ignored the numerous statements made by Dr Phillips and other ecologists of the importance of the Black Rocks sports field site as a central hub for koala movement, and the significance of its location to the survival of the remaining three koala sub-populations on the Tweed Coast. They also ignored the high incidence of Black Rocks koala deaths from stress-related disease and the Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study 2011 which states: ‘Even the loss of 1 or more individuals each year from this (a local koala) population should be avoided if ongoing population decline is not to be accelerated’.

On 10/6/2015 ecologist John Callaghan said: ‘If the Tweed Coast koala population is to be afforded a realistic chance for survival and recovery over the longer term, a precautionary approach will be necessary and the future of each remaining koala will be critical’. This will not happen if our politicians pick and choose which koalas they wish to protect, apparently for political point-scoring.

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