One of the koalas being cared for by Friends of the Koala in Lismore.
One of the koalas being cared for by Friends of the Koala in Lismore. Contributed

'Show me the money': MP chasing election promises

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LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has criticised NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro for dragging the chain on delivering two election commitments to two wildlife carer groups on the Northern Rivers.

"There are more examples of tardiness and I shall publicise them," Ms Saffin said.

"It has been more than four months since the March 23 election and the Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital and Friends of the Koala remain in the dark on where they stand in regard to these funding pledges.

"Three times now I have lodged questions on notice in Parliament, firstly with Environment Minister Matt Kean, then it was taken out of his hands by Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who seems to be sitting on his hands.

"I was less than impressed by Mr Barilaro's answer that 'the Government will honour all election commitments' because I sought a specific time frame for delivering them - basically 'show me the money' and for it to hit the groups' bank accounts."

In Parliament on Thursday Ms Saffin asked the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian:

"Since it has been more than four months since the State election, when will the election commitment of $100,000 in seed funding to establish a new Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital at one of three shortlisted sites in the region be delivered?

"When will the election commitment of $35,000 for equipment for Friends of the Koala Incorporated's (FOK) Koala Care and Treatment Centre in East Lismore be delivered, particularly as FOK has already had to purchase the equipment to triage and treat injured or sick koalas?"

Ms Saffin acknowledged that the funding allocations were included under supporting local communities in the NSW Treasury's document, 'The NSW Budget 2019-2020 Election Commitments, Getting it Done'.

"While this provides some comfort, Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital and Friends of the Koala need more certainty from the government about when the funds will be released so they can get on with their valuable work of rescuing and caring for the region's vast array of wildlife," Ms Saffin said.

Minister Kean responded by saying the NSW Government would honour all of its election commitments in this term of government.

"The arrangements will be finalised in the near future and we will work with the Friends of the Koala in delivering this commitment," Mr Kean said.

"Koala's are an iconic species for Australia. The NSW government's commitment of $45million under the Koala Strategy is to secure koalas in the wild. We are determined to provide more natural habitat, tackle diseases, improve research and fix roadkill hotspots."



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