28 APRIL 2011

The AKF and other dedicated koala conservationists are scheduled to give evidence at the Senate Inquiry on May 3. I am looking forward to it. I have just issued a media alert announcing that we have prepared 11 press releases that have tried to cover the length and breadth of the issues facing the Committee when they start to hear about the plight of the koalas. We must remember that by and large these Senators have had little interaction with the koala world and I am confident that at the end of the day, a lot of valuable information and concerns will have been presented to them.

At one stage, I was a little concerned that “industry” were not there to defend their actions and I wrote the following to the Senate researchers:

 “On behalf of the Australian Koala Foundation thank you for the invitation to give evidence at the upcoming public hearing. I accept with pleasure.

Over the Easter break I have been receiving emails from those invited, and non-invited, with concerns about the South East Queensland nature of this forum.

I too share these concerns.

The koala's plight is Australia wide. There seems to be very little accountability by industry, much of which has contributed to the demise of so many koalas over the last 20 years (not to mention over the last 200 years).

The following industries are clearly missing:

  • Lobbying
  • Coal mining
  • Forestry (Regional Forestry Agreements)
  • Coal seam gas
  • Energy
  • Road builders
  • Consulting

The Victorian and New South Wales Governments are also missing.”

I spoke with the Secretariat today and I have now been informed there will be another hearing in Canberra and I have explained that the AKF would be very happy to a) identify key people who should be called and b) suggest some questions that could be asked of them, so that the Senators can really understand what is happening to the koala and its precious habitat. For instance, I do not think they would know that State Planning Policy 44 in New South Wales is extinguished during exploration phases for industry. Not sure how this came about, but like all legislation in recent years, it has come out of the blue and is completely one-sided. Both the Property Council and the Urban Development Institute of Australia have said that “listing the koala is a threat to development”. I am so pleased to hear them say this out loud. At least we now know that is how they feel. In one of their submissions they said they want a “level playing field”. Well so do we and up until now that hasn’t been the case. The koala has lost on every occasion. I look forward to listening to every word these industries say on Tuesday. JM and my team will be filming and taking it down verbatim, but of course so will Hansard and it will be on the record for all time. We will prepare a short video of the day for you.

I am proud to be the recipient of your generous donations enabling the AKF to go into this forum and stand in front of the koala.

I will report to you next week with my comments to the Committee and also my impressions of the day.

As always thank you.