Greens councillor claims Clarence MP out of touch on koalas
A CLARENCE Valley Greens Councillor has hit out at Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis' opposition to the new koala policy, claiming the Nationals member "falsely presented our community's concerns about koalas".
Last week Mr Gulaptis was the first Nationals MP to threaten to quit the coalition and throw Gladys Berejiklian's government into turmoil over the Koala Habitat Protection State Planning Policy, which would increase the number of species that trigger koala checks and restrictions on land use activities from 10 to 123, expanding the responsibility of landholders to conduct koala assessments on private land.
Councillor Greg Clancy said Clarence Valley Council had made detailed submissions on the draft SEPP because the consensus among 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", Mr Clancy said.
"We are in total disbelief that the Member for Clarence falsely presented our community's concerns about koalas.
"It's as if he didn't even read or know about the views of most people in his electorate."
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The koala SEPP did not formally get voted on by Clarence Valley Council but it was prepared by staff under delegation.
"The fact that it was prepared by professional staff means that it was not influenced by local politics but was evidence based," Cr Clancy said.
Member for Ballina and NSW Greens spokeswoman Tamara Smith said Clarence Valley Council's submission on the draft NSW Koala Habitat Protection SEPP on March 30 this year said the Planning Instrument did not go far enough to protect koalas on the North Coast.
"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," Ms Smith said.
"Clarence Valley Council not only supported the new SEPP but they proposed broadening the number of tree species that are considered core koala habitat.
"After the devastating bushfires, people across the regions want the government to be doing more to protect koalas, not less."