Nationals not interested in protecting koalas: CVCC
THE Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition has slammed the NSW Nationals Party as being uninterested in protecting the region's koalas through their opposition to the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy.
Last week Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis made headlines when he threatened to join the crossbench in protest over the SEPP legislation.
"I won't stand by and see regional communities and livelihoods decimated over something that won't save koalas anyway," the Nationals MP said.
Mr Gulaptis said it was ironic that koalas continue to exist in regional areas where they have been protected for the past 200 years, and now regional people are being dictated to best protect this iconic species by a policy developed in the city, where koala colonies have been annihilated.
"I will not be a part of a government that is responsible for destroying rural businesses, throwing country workers on the scrap heap and killing regional communities," he said.
CVCC spokeswoman Leonie Blain said justification of the Nationals' opposition to the SEPP was "puzzling".
"According to Chris Gulaptis, the SEPP 'targets rural industries and decimates rural communities without protecting koalas' and that it 'essentially determines every part of NSW is koala habitat'," Ms Blain said.
"While the SEPP certainly does not provide the level of protection for koalas the CVCC would like to see, Mr Gulaptis' claim that it means all of NSW is defined as koala habitat is arrant nonsense - as is his claim about rural communities being decimated.
"In reality the SEPP only applies to developments that require a development application to council. This means that in rural zoned lands in the Clarence and Richmond local government areas extensive agriculture, horticulture and forestry are all developments without consent which means DAs are not required."
Ms Blain said the SEPP, which was passed in March this year, would have more of an impact on developers who want to subdivide farmland into rural residential or urban blocks than on genuine farming operations.
Ms Blain stated what was of concern to the CVCC was that the National Party wanted the SEPP watered down at a time when koalas urgently need greatly improved protection.
"Unless this happens, their current slip towards extinction will become a landslide," she said.
"National Party politicians are out of touch with their electorates if they fail to realise that koalas' dire situation has led to increased statewide support for effective protection of this species and its habitat.
"This support is not just in the city as the Nationals would like their constituents to believe."