Tamara Smith MP, Member for Ballina and NSW Greens spokesperson for the North Coast, and Greens Clarence Valley Councillor Greg Clancy, say the Nationals Member for Clarence and his party are out of touch.
‘Clarence Valley Council’s submission on the Draft NSW Koala Habitat Protection SEPP on 30 March this year said that the Planning Instrument did not go far enough to protect koalas on the North Coast,’ said Ms Smith.
‘Five months later the Member for Clarence sent the Nationals into a death spiral because he claimed people in his community were outraged by the new koala laws’, said Ms Smith.
Last Wednesday Mr Gulaptis said in a statement to the media, that this is such a significant issue for his electorate that he has to draw a line in the sand. ‘I won’t stand by and see regional communities and livelihoods decimated.’
Mr Gulaptis said he welcomed the decision of the NSW Nationals Parliamentary party to reject the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) Koala Habitat Protection in its current form, in a statement entitled ‘Standing Our Ground’ on Thursday on his Facebook page.
‘NSW Nationals state MPs resolved they will no longer attend joint party room or parliamentary leadership meetings, and will abstain from voting on government bills, but reserves the right to support bills and motions that are important to regional NSW until agreement can be reached with the NSW Liberals.
‘This action effectively puts the entire NSW Nationals parliamentary team on the crossbench.’
Ms Smith says that no only did the Clarence Valley Council support the new SEPP but they proposed broadening the number of tree species that are considered core koala habitat.
Cr Clancy said that Clarence Valley Council made detailed submissions on the Draft SEPP. ‘The consensus amongst councillors was that the laws were not strong enough to reverse the path of extinction for koalas in our area.
‘We called for a broadening of the definition of the types of areas that should come under protection because the government’s maps did not fully address the scientific evidence around core koala habitat in our region’, said Mr Clancy.
‘We are in total disbelief that the Member for Clarence falsely presented our community’s concerns about koalas and it’s as if he didn’t even read or know about the views of most people in his electorate’, said Mr Clancy.
The Koala SEPP did not formally get voted on by Clarence Council but it was prepared by staff under delegation.
Councillor Clancy said the fact that it was prepared by professional staff means that it was not influenced by local politics but was evidence based.
Ms Smith said that after the devastating bushfires, people across the regions want the government to be doing more to protect koalas, not less.
‘The Member for Clarence’s crusade against koalas isn’t supported by the evidence, the community or even his local Clarence Valley Council!’ said Ms Smith.
‘Normal farming won’t be affected by this SEPP. The Nationals threats are about their developer mates who want to re-zone farmland for huge residential developments and their big agri-business mates who don’t want to have to stop clearing millions of hectares of land with dynamite’ said Ms Smith.
‘The fact that the Nationals are backing developers and huge corporations over the community and local councils shows just how out of touch they have become.’