Newman says leave endangered Koalas out on a limb

May 2, 2012
Photo: Save the Australian Koala/Facebook

The battle to protect at-risk koalas is stepping up in Queensland after the federal government announced on April 30 that koalas would be listed as a vulnerable species in some states.

Federal environment minister Tony Burke said "at-risk koala populations in NSW, Queensland and the ACT would be included on the national list of threatened species, after a Senate inquiry last year found numbers were declining in Queensland and NSW," AAP reported on May 1.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman immediately attacked the federal decision as more "green tape" that duplicated state regulations and hindered the state's building industry.

The May 2 Courier Mail reported that Australia Koala Foundation executive director Deb Tabart said she was "appalled" at Newman’s comments.

Tabart noted that 25,000 koalas had died under the state's planning regulatory provisions. She said the green tape accusation was ridiculous because developers would not need to provide any more documentation than already required.

She added that the Liberal National Party government view was in line with Newman's push to have the federal government hand over environmental powers to state and local governments.

“Newman's comments are predictable," she told the May 2 Courier Mail. “I've received a deluge of emails from people who are outraged.

“His are last century's views. Coming out with the old green tape line sounds fabulous but he doesn't [know] how enlightened a lot of voters are these days.”

Newman would do well to recall that protection of koalas has been a hot issue in Queensland politics in the past. The Goss Labor government was almost defeated in the mid 1990s after it tried to build a highway through the iconic koala habitat at Daisy Hill Forest on Brisbane's southside.

Then state environment minister Molly Robson lost her seat over the issue, after mass rallies of koala supporters angrily rejected the state government's plans.

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It's a shame that developers aren't forced to use the Precautionary Principle, an expression of a need by decision-makers to anticipate harm before it occurs. Within this element lies an implicit reversal of the onus of proof: under the precautionary principle it is the responsibility of an activity proponent to establish that the proposed activity will not (or is very unlikely to) result in significant harm. Brisbane city Council does even have a koala map or a koala habitat. They do not know where they are or what habitat needs protecting. There are thousands of trees that were planted by BQCC at Wacol but the actual area of plantings is very small compared to the overall area of green space that could have been planted. It is very hypocritical of Newman. It did not take him long to learn how to spin

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