Koala protection policy ‘shameful’
AFTER years of turning a blind eye to the destruction of koala habitat across the region, Moreton Bay Council has today updated its policy to protect koalas - less than four months out from an election.
The policy adoption was slammed as "shameful" by a representative of the Save Our Community Warner (SOCW) group, whose members include koala rescuers.
A group spokesman who attended today's council meeting said the majority of councillors were not interested in real discussion, "just self-serving speeches".
The Australian Koala Foundation in May said koalas "may be functionally extinct" across the country while a report in 2014 by The University of Queensland claimed a 54.3 per cent decline in koala numbers in Pine Rivers between 1996 and 2014.
It is believed that more than 100 koalas have been killed this year alone across the Moreton region.
Councillors today adopted a policy to "identify, establish and enhance koala habitat and wildlife corridors".
It would also "manage the impact of development and council-managed projects on the koala population".
The council would work with the community, industry and state government to carry out the policy.
Mayor Allan Sutherland, after today's council meeting, said the policy had to be changed to reflect modern technology, infrastructure capacity and community expectations.
"This policy articulates our strategy for creating more koala habitat, developing better connected green corridors, delivering infrastructure that enables wildlife to move safely away from cars and dogs and it emphasises the importance of community education and awareness programs," he said.
"Every human has a right to a home and so do koalas, that's what this strategy is about."
Environment spokesman Cr Denise Sims (Div 7) said the council's koala management at the Petrie mill site has seen the koala population increase by 25 per cent each year since 2017.
A Save Our Community Warner spokesman slammed the council, saying it was only focused on koalas at the Petrie Mill site, while koalas outside that site were dying regularly.
"We naively thought we would be going to today's council meeting to hear how additional action was going to be taken to help save our region's koalas," the spokesman said.
"No, mayor Allan Sutherland led the discussion about the koala conservation policy by bragging about a yet to be published article in The Australian about how council is the leading council in Australia for koala conservation.
"Can you believe not once in the entire announcement was a single mention made of the koalas dying in our region every single day?
"About the koala that only a couple of days ago was peeled off Eatons Crossing Rd?
"Dozens of koalas have been lost in the past few months alone.
"And it is fine to be proud of green infrastructure and fauna underpasses but to have the arrogance to just disregard the community despair and the actual koala situation is nothing short of shameful."
The spokesman also said they believed the policy would equate to nothing new.
"We are nothing short of ashamed by this koala policy because in the words of the mayor himself, we are already doing all of it," he said.
"It's just a piece of paper lacking action, innovation and hope.
"All the koalas who aren't lucky enough to live in the university site are going to die.
"We aren't extremists. This isn't a stretch of the imagination, if nothing significantly changes, all the koalas in our region are going to die.
"So far we have lost over 100 this year alone. Are you proud now?"
The state appointed Koala Advisory Council recently completed a new koala conservation strategy for the whole state, though it's adoption is being held up by the government.
The council meanwhile also announced today it would establish up to five hectares of new koala habitat in Dayboro at Federick Nethersole Reserve, with more than 6000 trees to be planted.
The reserve is in the D'Aguilar Range to North Pine Reservoir habitat corridor.