Save the Koala Month is over, and so is the deadline of 30th September which was set by Minister Peter Garrett to make his decision about listing the koala as vulnerable.
Several media have approached the AKF about the listing, and they also contacted the
new Minister Tony Burke. It seems the Minister was very difficult to track down, and in the end his staff made a short comment which basically said that 'the Minister has received the advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) by the due date, but he now wants to take a further 3 months for deliberation.
I asked advice from legal colleagues at the ANU, and it would appear that the EPBC Act is capable of this delay and, worse still, in three months time the Minister could delay the decision again indefinitely.
I am very disappointed in the new Minister for taking this course.
The TSSC has either decided to list the koala as 'vulnerable' under the EPBC Act or it has not.
The TSSC has either decided to list the koala as 'conservation dependant' under the EPBC Act or it has not.
What has the Minister to deliberate upon? If we are to believe the previous Minister Garrett was waiting for the TSSC to make the decision, what would a new Minister have to deliberate upon? He has no scientific knowledge, so it must be politics. What effect would listing have on the koala? What else can it be? It is my personal view that they are evaluating the politics as always.
The koala has never been protected by the Federal Government. It is because Federal Governments basically do not want to protect the environment and, worse still, do not want to intervene in State rights on these matters.
That is why they want a 'conservation dependant' listing – it will leave things as they are – and nothing will change.
I do not believe this Government will give the koala the protection it deserves and, as you know, I am now relying on the call for a Senate Inquiry into why the koala is not protected. AKF is gathering information in readiness for this Senate Inquiry, which I am confident will come. And I long for it.
I am presuming this will mean that Senators will have the power to shine light on why this whole process has taken so long, and they will presumably bring out documents which identifies delays.
In the meantime all we can do is wait. Wait for the Minister to deliberate for 3 months or more, and wait for the Green Senators to get into Canberra by July 2011. Then we can call on them for protection of the koala. Senator Brown promised this during the election campaign.
It may be time to start writing to Senator Bob Brown alerting him, as well as writing letters to Minister Burke. I will draft those letters in the coming days.
You would not think it should be this hard would you?