Works on the new Pacific Highway, as seen from Meerschaum Vale.
Works on the new Pacific Highway, as seen from Meerschaum Vale. Suzanne Whiteman

Government 'failed' to protect koalas on highway upgrade

A MOTION has been presented in NSW Parliament, condemning the "failure” of the government to "implement proper protections for the Wardell koala population impacted by the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade”.

Opposition Environment Minister Penny Sharpe used the motion to outline serious concerns for koalas following the September bushfire in the area.

She said the fire caused "extensive loss of koala habitat while the fencing may have trapped koalas fleeing the fire”.

The situation was made worse, she said, by clearing of koala habitat occurring in the Pacific Highway upgrade corridor.

Ms Sharpe's motion calls on the government to demonstrate to the community, ecologists and koala wildlife protectors how the current work will be altered to ensure that the koala population was not further harmed in the construction of the highway.

"We are witnessing the creeping destruction of prime habitat affecting a nationally significant population of koalas, brought to you by the Berejiklian Government,” she said.

"It is a total failure of environmental responsibility from the government, made worse by their arrogant response ignoring to the concerns of the local community.

"The government's approach to this road project has all the hallmarks of their usual philosophy when it comes to the protecting the environment: 'ignore the science, develop and clear, and ask questions later'.”

Ms Sharpe said she hoped to bring the motion back to the floor of Parliament for debate "as soon as possible”.



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