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Minister has the power to protect Koala habitat now

21 December 2020 –

Hello Koala Lovers,

I am hoping you might take a look at a recent TV News report that had me articulate my concerns about the Koala Count. The AKF has great concerns that this is unnecessary and that indeed all the Federal Minister needs to do is protect valuable habitats in Australia. In this piece the Minister articulates that she personally cannot control the States (New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT) with powers under the EPBC Act (Federal laws).

This is not correct. What is correct is that our Government politically has made the decision that they do not want to interfere in the States’ rights. Ironically, this has been the position of the Commonwealth Government since Federation (1901) and was part of the reason the Commonwealth Government would not intervene in the Koala fur trade issues in 1927.

There is a shocking document on our website called Black August which articulates the number of Koalas killed in one fur season in 1927 in Queensland. Nearly 1 million Koalas. The reason this happened is because we had nearly shot the Koala to extinction in New South Wales, there was only 1000 or so in Victoria and South Australian Koalas had been completely shot to extinction.

AKF has also seen the manifests of approximately 8 million skins that went to both London and New York fur markets between 1890 and 1927. So, the slaughter was shocking. If you read Black August, and you will need to wear a hard hat to do so, such is the ghastly nature of the information, you will see that at no time did the Commonwealth Government want to get involved.

When the Koala was listed federally in May 2012 it was the first time in over 100 years the Koala had federal protection. This came about as a result of a Senate Inquiry in 2011 which actually articulated that the States were incapable of protecting the Koala. Prior to the listing, a workshop was convened to evaluate whether the Koala should be listed, even though the Senators had recommended it was to be done. As a result of that workshop, the South Australian and Victorian Governments missed out and only New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT are protected by the federal law, the EPBC Act. That is why all of you fighting to protect Koalas in South Australia and Victoria cannot do so because the protection is so limited.

Within months of the listing the conservative side of politics wanted the Commonwealth to back off and Memorandum of Understandings were prepared and presumably signed by both Queensland and New South Wales. This is why the Koalas in New South Wales are now under pressure because the Minister at a Federal level as we can see in this piece does not want to interfere in what is happening in a State of the same political persuasion. So, why don’t all our leaders just work to the rules of our laws? That truly is the question, and I am shocked that the Minister would say she does not have the power. She absolutely has the power to protect habitats under Ministerial discretion and it does beg the question whether she understands her obligations.

The Koala Manifesto will articulate all this and will also be calling for a Royal Commission into the political games that have gone on, not just in this century but for the whole time of the poor little Koalas existence since white settlement. I cannot wait for the Koala Manifesto to be released on March 22nd, 2021 and we will all need to call for a Royal Commission into the plight of the Koala.

Write to Minister Ley asking her to utilise the power of the EPBC Act but I fear it will fall on deaf ears, like all the other campaigns that appear daily in the media. Clearly the Minister understands that a Koala Recovery Plan is needed, and she says she will write one next year. But this does seem counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Even if she does write one then presumably, we will hear the States argue “don’t tell us what to do!” And the merry go round, goes around again and again and again.

I will sign off before Christmas next week and be safe.



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