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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Byron Councillors object to govt’s ‘koala killing’ Bill

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Before the Black Summer fires in 2019/20 northern NSW koala numbers had declined by 50 per cent over the previous 20 years. The Black Summer fires burnt approximately 30 per cent of ‘likely koala habitat’ according to North East Forest Alliance (NEFA). Kajika the koala is one of the lucky few koalas who was rescued from bushfires and is recovering with Friends of the Koala. Photo supplied.

Paul Bibby

Upper House MP and former Nationals candidate for the seat of Ballina, Ben Franklin, is sticking to his party’s stance on a controversial ‘koala-killing’ Bill before parliament.

Currently awaiting a final vote in the NSW Upper House, the Bill represents a major reversal of the government’s previous support for koala protection – a back flip motivated by internal conflicts within the Liberal-National Coalition.

Koala. Photo M Matthes.

In an urgency motion passed unanimously at last Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, all councillors noted their ‘strong objection’ to the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020, which allows for large-scale clearing of bushland by farmers and industry.

Councillor Michael Lyon (Independent), who moved the motion said, ‘What you’re going to see is a removal of protections for koala habitat, and a continuation of the destructive activities you’ve seen before’.

‘It is inconsistent with the findings of the NSW audit office and the Upper House inquiry into koala populations and habitat’.

Ben Franklin being sworn back into the senate as parliamentary secretary for energy and the arts after a failed bid in the lower house in 2019. Photo supplied.

MLC Ben Franklin’s koala killer vote

But locally based Nationals MLC Ben Franklin said he would be voting for the Bill.

Mr Franklin told The Echo the Local Land Services Act (the LLS Act) and associated codes already contained ‘robust protections for koalas…’

‘The LLS Act and the land management framework totally prevents harm to threatened species habitat. It acts as a complete stop point.

‘This included the fact that all activities under the LLS Act were subject to penalty offences under the Biodiversity Act.

‘Division 1 (2.4) of the Biodiversity Conservation Act makes it clear that harming the habitat of a threatened species subjects that person to either $1.65 million fine, or imprisonment for two years, or both,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘This includes any activity by farmers.

‘These protections are arguably much higher than any protection for koalas afforded by the planning system, which only aims to mitigate habitat destruction’.

The EPA issued a stop work order at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest a known koala habitat area. Photo supplied.

Undermines e-zones

Cr Lyon added that the bill had particular consequences for the Byron Shire, because it undermined the protections offered by E-zones – an environmental zoning that forms a key part of the Shire’s ecological protection policy framework.

‘It allows certain acts within E-zones… and freezes koala habitat plans of management in time.

‘Our identified core koala habitat is under threat.’

The motion seeks support from the local member for Ballina, Tamara Smith to make ‘urgent representations to the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, the Minister for Energy and the Environment, Matthew Kean and members of the NSW Parliament on behalf of Council about the potential impact that the Bill will have on our biodiversity’.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Byron’s objection [koala killing bill] needs support. What to do about
    a back-flipping parliamentary punk… like the party he represents…
    give him an all-day-sucker.

  2. Now, Stefanie don’t be too harsh,
    If you too had been dropped on your head as a baby, perhaps even you may have been tempted to join the Nationals and plot the destruction of Koalas and anything else but, wheat, sheep and cotton. Just look at Barnaby, I’m sure nobody thinks he’s a low-life scumbag with the IQ of a compost heap with an irresistible urge to support his funders in the coal and gas chambers. Just because the major parties hate all living things and detest natural beauty, doesn’t mean we should criticize them for killing Koalas, Wombats and trampling the Kosiusko National Park with feral horses, while burning the Sh**t out of the bush, in case a shed burns down. Does it ?
    Cheers, G”)

  3. What do you expect from a Nat member? They don’t represent anything except rorting the public purse. With policies like brumbies in snowy mountains and the carry on about koala tree listings, land clearing and water policy- they are dinosaurs and facing extinction.

  4. What does one expect from a party going the way of the dinosaurs! They represent a very small percentage of the vote and with policies like this are well on the way to extinction. Talk tough but fold at slightest pressure. These are the people of increased land clearing, coal mines and coal seam gas not to mention destroying rivers.

  5. Sad things is, if Council had been more proactive they would have had their Coastal Koala Plan of Management approved by DPIE and then Koala habitat on rural lands would be protected. Instead, Council sat on its hands for 5 years, the CKPoM languished and has no statutory power as it is an unapproved document.

  6. Ben Franklin [that is] a disgrace … (we have a plethora of the likes of you sadly). The 25 yr old SEPP regulations were inadequate & NOW the new amendments are EVEN more damaging for our precious but ENDANGERED KOALAS. I never ‘get’ why so many millions of uninformed luddites keep voting for this lot ? When you vote LNP you are condemning every native species to death as you are Hell bent on destroying their habitat. The only chance Koalas have to survive is on properties of kind hearted & ecologically aware people.However, that isn’t going to be enough to sustain their already diminished populations. Barilaro had the gall & audacity to call our amazing & unique Koalas as “tree rats”…..what a vile & heartless bogan comment.

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