The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has today labelled the Queensland Government’s recent decision to list the Koala as a vulnerable species under the Nature Conservation Act a political stunt.
'Look back and see what the vulnerable listing for the Koala in Southeast Queensland achieved,' said Deborah Tabart OAM, Chief Executive Officer of the AKF. 'The Koala was listed as vulnerable in Southeast Queensland in 2004. That listing has since triggered a torrent of plans, policies and provisions from previous State Governments, both Labor and Liberal National.'
'And what did all of these plans, policies and provisions achieve? Rampant development, and sadly a large number of sick, injured and dead Koalas,' Tabart said.
The AKF says that rather than stopping Koala declines, the Government’s own figures show the Koala Coast population (SE QLD) has plummeted by 68% between 1996 and 2010; the Pine Rivers population declined by about 40% from 2001 to 2008.
'The declines have been so extreme that the previous State Government stopped releasing the figures. The AKF nominated the Koala in this region as Critically Endangered. Where has that listing gone?' she said.
Tabart said the 2004 State listing hasn’t helped Koalas in Southeast Queensland, and time will prove that a State-wide listing won’t save Koalas either until it is backed up by effective legislative protection and political will.
'This is why the Senate Inquiry into the Status of the Koala in 2010 concluded that the States are incapable of protecting the Koala, and why the Federal Listing was so important. You have to ask, is this the Premiers way of a "one stop shop" reminiscent of the former Premier? I think so,' she said.
'We fear that the scenario will be that this listing allows the Federal Government to step away from their obligations to protect the Koala, because Queensland has said, "it’s alright, we’ve got this…"' said Tabart.
'Back to the good old days and industry will be very happy,' she said.
The AKF is also urging people to also consider the State Government inadequate Koala habitat mapping.
'Remember that the Queensland State Government had 10 years to get the mapping right in Southeast Queensland, and they still haven’t even finished that mapping yet. Worse still, the mapping that they do have has been wrong from day one.
'It suffers from serious problems with their methodology that have been acknowledged within Government, but no efforts have ever been made to address these problems.
'How then are they going to protect Koalas across the State?
‘The only way to protect Koalas is a Federal Koala Protection Act,' concluded Tabart.
Listen to Deborah's interview with Steve Austin ABC 612 2/6/15 here.