First day on the job and the Environment Minister secretly signed the death warrant for Ballina’s 200 koalas

Tuesday, 23 August, 2016
Australia

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) together with Save Ballina’s Koalas and Friends of the Koala are disappointed that the Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg has given the green light to the controversial NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Section 10 of the Pacific Highway Upgrade on the day of being sworn in.

 

The fate of Ballina’s koalas was sealed on the 19th July yet has only been made public on the RMS website overnight.  Despite repeated attempts by IFAW to contact the Department, the Minister and even the Prime Minister, no news of the approval was forthcoming. 

 

According to IFAW Campaign Manager, Josey Sharrad: “Minister Frydenberg has shown the Australian public that he cares little for science, public opinion, sacred sites and the survival of a nationally significant population of koalas in Ballina.”

 

In August 2014, in response to local, national and international community concerns, former Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, gave the amber light to the Section 10 Upgrade by placing a set of conditions on the approval of the proposed route to ensure the impacts on this koala population were ‘acceptable’. 

 

Disappointingly Minister Frydenberg and the RMS have deemed it acceptable that nearly 200 koalas will now face probable extinction.  Over the past ten years the RMS has been presented with substantial evidence to support calls to adjust the proposed Section 10 route, to ensure the future survival of this nationally significant koala population, however the RMS have refused to consider a more koala friendly route.   

 

Lorraine Vass, President of Friends of the Koala and campaign spokesperson comments: “In a farcical statement, the RMS is claiming that the NSW Government has followed an ‘open and transparent process’, yet at the end of the day community and animal welfare concerns have gained little traction.  Given that the Ballina Koala Plan was approved by Minister Frydenberg over a month ago and the Koala Management Plan was approved on 11th August, and only released in a press release yesterday was bad enough; that no mention was made of the approvals at a pop-up information meeting with the community and stakeholders held yesterday afternoon borders on deceitfulness and demonstrates the extent to which the culture of disrespect and dishonesty is entrenched.”

 

Jeff Johnson, Save Ballina’s Koalas Coordinator said “The extinction of Ballina’s koalas must be an acceptable impact in the mind of Mr Frydenberg and his bureaucrats.” Proposed wildlife crossings and tree plantings won’t be enough to save these koalas – only diverting the road away from critical habitat could have ensured their survival.”  

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