It is with cautious celebrations that we welcomed Minister Tony Burke’s announcement on 30th April. Koalas in Queensland, News South Wales and the ACT are now classified as vulnerable while those in Victoria and South Australia have been left unprotected. This is a small victory but as predicted some months ago, it is still a far stretch away from the blanket cover needed to secure the future survival of the species. The legal implications of the decision are yet to be clearly defined but we suspect it will be fraught with loopholes. As so, we are currently seeking legal advice to better understand the legislation. Without unloading too much information, here’s what you need to know:
A vulnerable listing under the EPBC Act requires all future developments, planned in protected areas, to be approved at a Federal level. This decision will affect individuals, groups and companies whose actions may have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. For the koala, this means a stronger focus on habitat preservation and a closer examination of projects which pose a threat to their survival.
This is not what we wanted. All koalas in Autralia need to be protected, but it is a start. When Minister Burke says "people have made it very clear to me that they want to make sure the koala is protected for future generations”, he is talking about you. After years of consideration, the AKF now believes a Koala Protection Act is the way to proceed. Your role in achieving this will be imperative. Until the koalas in Victoria and South Australia can enjoy the same protection as their wild koalas in the North, our work will continue.