Government ‘stalling’ on endangered koalas decision

AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION

The Federal Government has been urged to act sooner rather than later after delaying for another 10 weeks its decision to add the koala to the list of nationally-threatened species

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke hinted in a statement that a listing is being considered, but only on dwindling koala populations in specific parts of the country.

Mr Burke has asked the Threatened Species Committee for more precise boundaries detailing areas where koala populations are in trouble.

In the Gunnedah local government area in northern New South Wales, only 6,000 hectares out of a possible half-a-million is considered primary koala habitat.

Australian Koala Foundation chief executive officer Deborah Tabart says a Senate inquiry document is telling Mr Burke that he should act now and not wait another 10 weeks.

“I think it’s basically said the koala is in serious trouble and that it’s just declining, so unless you get this federal protection there’s nothing in place that will stop it going into extinction at some point in the future,” she said.

“So I think it’s time our Federal Minister stepped in and said ‘look, we’ve got to bite the bullet, protect the koalas and all those industries who are fearing this just get on the program’.

“Minister Burke has delayed this decision, I think, twice and Minister (Peter) Garrett prior to that, I think, three times.

“I’m just hoping that the Senate inquiry document, which is now firmly on his (Mr Burke’s) desk, should persuade him that, if nothing else, he should protect the koala under a precautionary approach.”

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