Coalition government changes to land-clearing laws that are pushing koalas towards local extinction could result in two key seats changing hands at the next state election, a ReachTEL poll has revealed.
Commissioned by the Nature Conservation Council and the Wilderness Society, the poll shows that 57.9 per cent of voters surveyed in the electorate of Lismore, 62.8 per cent in Ballina and 65 per cent in Tweed believe that habitat loss from deforestation is the biggest threat to koala populations in NSW.
And, it suggests, many are willing to act on those sentiments – changing their vote to parties that favour our wildlife.
If replicated on election day, the poll suggests that Greens MP Tamara Smith will likely retain her seat of Ballina. The Greens could also take Lismore from the Nationals while Labor appears likely to win Tweed from sitting MP Geoff Provest.
In all, 71 per cent of voters support stronger laws to end deforestation and 56.6 per cent of voters are more likely to vote for a party that commits to ending deforestation.
Asked for their voting intentions, in two-party preferred terms, voters interviewed gave the Greens a 55 per cent preference in Ballina and 52 per cent in Lismore, while Labor has a 55 per cent preference in Tweed.
NCC CEO Kate Smolski said, ‘We wanted to see what level of awareness there was in the community and the results speak for themselves, 71 per cent of people want stronger laws to end deforestation.
‘These results confirm that people absolutely love koalas and they understand that deforestation is driving them towards extinction. It also shows people expect the NSW Government to do everything it can to ensure koalas can thrive in our forests for generations to come.’
Koala numbers plummeting
Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneiders said, ‘Koala numbers are plummeting in NSW. A third of the koala population has been wiped out in NSW in just 20 years, and their numbers are continuing to decline in most parts of the state.
‘Two drivers of the decline in numbers are deforestation and logging. It’s time we stopped clearing and logging koala habitat immediately rather than applying Band-Aid solutions.
‘Deforestation rates have escalated in NSW, and Eastern Australia is now a global deforestation hotspot. We need new and powerful laws that work to turn this around.’
The survey was conducted using an automated telephone-based survey of 1,981 voters from the three electorates.