The Nationals MP for Clarence, Mr Gulaptis, is soon to retire and I can hear the koalas clapping. As the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Forestry, he was the prime instigator of the NSW ‘Koala Wars’ and in the cheer squad for the deputy premier, bolstering the forestry industry at a shameful cost to NSW taxpayers.
Senate inquiry after senate inquiry, and hearing after hearing clearly established that koalas are in serious decline. Forest management expert, Dr Andrew Smith, stated that the recovery time for koalas is 45 years and much longer for gliders. However, regardless of the mountains of evidence, the Nationals were never going to act to protect koalas. Deputy Premier and Nationals leader, Barilaro, kept lobbying to remove national park status for the Murray Valley National Park to allow logging of river red gums… what a ‘genius’ idea.
I wrote to Mr Gulaptis in 2020, and in his response he naturally validated his unscientific position, and stated that it was not (unsustainable) farming or forestry that was the threat but dogs and urban development, bushfires (wonder why they have increased?), and chlamydia (which came from introduced cows) – all of which are owing to loss of habitat. Caused by – guess what? – logging of native forests and clearing on private property where most koalas now live.
It is impossible to save koalas while you are hellbent on cutting down native forests and permitting farmers to do whatever they want under the new SEPP legislation that the Nationals have demanded.
Some three billion native animals were killed or seriously injured in the 2019–20 bushfires. This statistic breaks my heart as a koala rescuer. But the deputy premier, working for the Devil (Blinky Bill told me this) overruled the Environment Protection Agency to allow industrial-scale logging, and directed funds from the bushfire recovery grants to the timber industry. Some $38 million of the $177 million went into forestry ‘projects’. But wait, there’s more; then there was a further $46 million Mr Barilaro awarded to the forestry corporation for ‘bushfire recovery measures’… koalas got a big fat nothing.
Wake up NSW taxpayers, koalas are more important than your wasted tax dollars. Remember back in 2016 the Australia Institute report stated that only 600 direct jobs were in forestry and that taxpayers lost $79 million over seven years [supporting the industry]. Good riddance, Mr Gulaptis – I’m wondering what your legacy will be for the next generation?