July 2010

This week I have written to all sitting members of the Federal Parliament reminding them of their koala constituents, and of their responsibility to protect the natural environment. I have asked them 5 questions - simple questions. We are asking them to honour the importance of  the koala to their electorate, to Australia and

to the world. Read the letter here.

On the 30th July we will be advised of all new candidates and I will write to them also. Somewhat humorously, we will give them a koala 'thumbs up' for each question they get right and an axe to those who choose to ignore the plight of the koala.

In the current Federal Parliament, there are 128 sitting members in koala habitats and only 1 had a full paw, 11 had two claws, and sadly 116 had an axe, which is symbolic of how much our politicians regard the environment. See our wall of fame and wall of shame.

I am hoping we will get a better response this time around as we approach a Federal election in our country, especially given the state of the planet. It is hard to contemplate that it was only 6 months ago when I was in Copenhagen, and our former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and President Obama said that the planet was facing the worst crisis ever with global warming. It seems to have completely disappeared off the agenda.

As I wrote then and I do now, irrespective of whether global warming is occurring, what I know is that koala habitats go down every day, relentlessly. As we explained to our leaders in Copenhagen, every single koala habitat tree the size of a telegraph pole has one tonne of carbon and requires 2000 saplings to replace it, not to mention the ecological value of the trees. If we just stopped chopping down trees and allowed the natural environment to protect us as it always has, life would be simpler. Watch our carbon and koalas video.

I was recently in Newcastle and Port Stephens where I met with koala carers, and as always I was inspired and shocked at what I saw and heard. Claire – a wild koala, was one of 16 animals whose habitat had been destroyed and she came in sick with Chlamydia. It was a treat to stand next to her while she munched on new fresh leaves, but she will have to go back into the wild soon to an uncertain future. It makes me so mad to hear the same things, day after day, and I have heard it all now for over 20 years. Claire was one of 2500 koalas that the local carer groups had taken into care and only half of them went back into the wild. Read the Herald News story here.

AKF has helped Council in that region to have the best koala maps in the country and yet still, the habitats come down. As I left that place, I realised it is because we humans have a fundamental lack of respect for the natural environment. And worse still, a fascination with concrete and 'tidying' things up – making it look neat, making it 'safer', but the joke is, the more concrete, the more tidying, and the less safe it is. I remember one of our scientists used to feel safe in the bush with snakes and mosquitoes, more than in a city.

We have one month to go before our Federal election and, as we all know, politicians seem to care more when their futures are at risk, and I encourage each and every one of you to consider how you are going to vote. Ask your local politician – do you care about the things I care about? Do you consider the quality of life in this beautiful country of ours? For our international supporters, I would love you to write letters to our political leaders and encourage them to care more for Australia and the koala.

I am going to write an election diary as I did in Copenhagen and hope that you will not mind receiving them more regularly. I believe this is a crucial election for the future of Australia, and of course for the koala that our organisation has spent years trying to protect.

As always I welcome your comments.
Fond regards, Deborah