Port Stephens MP Kate Washington has slammed the latest thought bubble from Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton which allocates $20 million to buy privately owned koala habitat, but excludes the buy-back of the Mambo Wetlands.
A map released today along with the expression of interest details identifies priority areas for purchase in Port Stephens, but excludes Salamander Bay where the Government sold 6 hectares of koala habitat to a property developer in 2016.
Recent documents released under freedom of information show that the Government was aware of the community backlash to the proposal and explicitly identified Kate Washington MP as having raised concerns, but proceed with the sale anyway.
Under Minister Upton’s policy, priority is given to land closest to adjoining National Parks and other NSW Government owned nature reserves.
The Mambo Wetlands is adjacent to a large nature reserve, but as that reserve is owned by Port Stephens Council the site would not be a priority for purchase under this scheme.
The NSW Government’s record on protecting Port Stephen’s iconic koalas is woeful. Since 2015 they have:
- Sold the Mambo Wetlands koala habitat in Salamander Bay
- Supported plans by UrbanGrowth to bulldoze koala habitat near Anna Bay for housing – blocked by the Land and Environment court
- Approved a sand mine on koala habitat in Williamtown
- Changed land clearing laws across NSW, making it easier to bulldoze koala habitat
- Changed endangered species legislation, preventing Port Stephens koalas from being listed as ‘endangered’ despite meeting the criteria.
Quotes attributable to Kate Washington MP
“Today’s announcement is a last minute attempt to buy credibility from a Government whose policies and actions are putting our koalas at risk of extinction.
“Current estimates say wild koalas in Port Stephens could be gone within 10 years, but this Government is only making the situation worse.
“The Government has refused calls to transfer land they already own in Fishermans Bay into the adjoining Tomaree National Park, but they are offering $20 million to buy private land to add to the same National Park. This Government has the wrong priorities.
“Only Labor is committed to buying back the Mambo Wetlands through compulsory acquisition and turning around the Liberal’s destructive changes to land clearing laws.”
This item was distributed as a media release on Wednesday 24 October 2018.