Jenny Leong MP calls for greater Koala protection in NSW

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has condemned the Liberals and National for their woefully inadequate measures to protect Koala habitats in NSW.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (19:20): On behalf of The Greens I contribute to debate on the National Park Estate (Reservations) Bill 2018. I also support the contribution of the member for Balmain as to the detail of the bill. While it may be contrary to popular belief for those who do not understand the connection of people in the city to the vast landscapes and beautiful environment that New South Wales has to offer, the people who live in my electorate and the inner city value our national parks and the need for conservation. They also value the importance of providing absolute protection for our koalas in this State.

It is clear from the media release issued by the Minister for the Environment, Ms Gabrielle Upton, earlier today, titled "Greens wrong on national parks", that she is slightly unhappy about The Greens having exposed the reality of the complete hypocrisy of the Liberals and The Nationals purporting to provide amazing protection for our national parks and koalas. However, as my colleague in the upper House Ms Cate Faehrmann, MLC, said:

Since the Liberals came to power we have seen a 94 per cent reduction in average annual additions to our National Parks estate, a massive increase in deforestation and a koala plan which fails to protect koalas.

Earlier I checked Twitter to see whether, on her visit to Taronga Zoo this morning with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for a photo to be taken with namesake koalas Harry and Meghan, the Premier mentioned that today in this Parliament the Liberals and The Nationals would be failing to take the necessary action required to protect koala habitats in this State. My guess is she probably failed to mention that.

Some members in this place, including the member for Ballina, understand that koalas are a national treasure. Indeed, in the lead-up to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games the member for Ballina questioned the contradiction that koalas, a natural treasure being forced into local extinction, were being used as iconic mascots at those games. Clearly, this bill and the Government's koala strategy are unacceptable. They are not delivering what is needed. Instead, we are seeing a complete failure to take the opportunity to protect our koalas and their natural habitat. The Greens are committed to embracing the 50-part proposal of the National Parks Association of NSW. We believe that we need to end logging in native forests to protect Sydney's water catchments not already reserved as national parks; protection of key new areas which provide recreational and conservation opportunities for the residents of south-western Sydney; protection of high conservation and iconic additions within the Greater Sydney area; reservations of important North Coast parks for the protection of koalas, coastal wetlands and river catchments including the Great Koala National Park; reservations of key South Coast reserves; reservation of previously identified flora reserves within south-west slopes which have been identified; and resolution of longstanding community concerns in relation to conflicts between mining interests, logging and conservation for Gardens of Stone stage 2 and the Pilliga, as well as simple addition of others.

It is absolutely clear that what we are seeing is a commitment to the idea of providing genuine protection, the idea of the National Parks Association with 50 Park Proposals. The Greens will move amendments in this place. My Greens colleague Jamie Parker, the member for Balmain, will move amendments to try to improve this bill so that we actually see some changes that will mean real protection for some of our national park conservation areas, real protection for koalas and a koala strategy that is in line with expert advice, science, communities and the people who are most concerned with seeing that our koala habitats and koalas are protected now and in the future.

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