Finally the koala has a keen defender in the person of Luke Foley, newly elected Shadow Premier of NSW who, for the time being is keeping the Shadow Environment portfolio.
“Luke proved his bona fides as a genuine environmental warrior with his call on the ex-environment minister’s ridiculous claim that logging protected koalas, he pushed hard for the Federal koala classification of “Vulnerable” and was one of the few politicians to quickly call burning forest biomass to produce electricity “dead koala” energy,” said Susie Russell, spokesperson for the NCEC.
“Unlike the politicians of the LNP Government, Luke Foley took the time to visit north coast forests on several occasions to see the damage ForestCorp have been doing in koala habitat. He has also inspected the route of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade north of the Richmond River to Wardell which will inevitably lead to the extinction of a nationally-significant koala population. We have seen him take back this information to Parliament and through questions, motions, and various Parliamentary committees attempt to right the current wrongs,” said Lorraine Vass, President, Friends of the Koala and NCEC public officer.
The North Coast Environment Council has worked closely with Luke Foley for several years. He has a genuine commitment to the koala and seeing it survive in the difficult climate ahead.
“Previous Premier Barry O’Farrell promised before the 2010 election to protect koalas, but koala protection on the North Coast actually went backwards with core koala habitat destroyed by logging in Royal Camp (near Casino), Boambee (near Coffs Harbour) and Wang Wauk (near Bulehdelah) State Forests. On the Far North Coast the review of environmental zones and overlays in local environment plans has weakened habitat protection and is still not resolved.
“Premier Mike Baird’s enabling of burning native forests to create electricity and promotion of removing limits on logging intensity and of the requirement to conduct pre-logging surveys for threatened species will see much of the koalas’ remaining habitat on the NSW north coast destroyed.
“The NCEC looks forward to an ongoing working relationship with Luke Foley. He understands that “logging (doesn’t) protect koalas”.” Ms Russell said.
“NSW needs an Environment Minister willing to stand up for the declining koala population in our State and protect their remaining habitats.” Luke Foley 27 October 2011 1