March 2009

On Saturday 14th March, the Minister for the Environment, Mr. Peter Garrett will sing with his old band, Midnight Oil.   You may remember that during the 2000 Australian Olympics when he was just the lead singer of the band he wore the word SORRY on his outfit. 

This reference was to his concerns for the Stolen Generation – children who had been taken away from their children (there is a great movie that shows this “Rabbit Proof Fences”).   Since that time, the Prime Minister has said ‘sorry’ to the Aboriginal people and rightly so for all they have suffered.

For the same amount of time since white settlement – over 200 years - the koala has also suffered (read Black August on our website) and today, Tuesday I received news that makes me ashamed to be an Australian.

Mr. Garrett on receiving these documents should actually be so moved that under his precautionary powers as a Minister, he could actually list the koala immediately. 

In December of 08, the AKF submitted a nomination to have the koala listed as critically endangered in the South East Queensland bioregion.  We did so, hurriedly, but with documents that prove the koala population is almost unviable genetically and probably beyond recovery.   One document was an internal document from the Queensland Government and the other a University of Queensland scientific document that supports the criteria to allow the Federal Government to protect the koala under Federal environment laws.

On Tuesday I heard from a senior bureaucrat that our nomination does “not fit the criteria for a nomination and would have to be re-submitted properly”.    Even if we do, the nomination would still not be dealt with until September 2010. AKF made it clear that this population is beyond recovery and by September 2010 that it probably cannot survive.  Our concerns have fallen onto deaf ears.   I have spent hours on the phone with this fellow and I now feel betrayed because I felt that he was starting to understand the urgency that I feel after 21 years years and seeing so many dead koalas.

I ask you all -  write to Mr. Garrett and tell him of your outrage.    Make your views known in anyway you can.  How can he in all consciousness sing in a concert for koalas and bushfire victims (Sam the koala) when his own Department has done everything it can to make sure that the development industry will not be upset by a listing? You see, if a listing occurs, then all development applications would have to be looked at and developers couldn’t just knock down trees.

What does it take to get a Government to protect a species?   How can the average person try and meet all this criteria?   Even with all our might - the AKF has produced $8 million dollars worth of science – it is still impossible.    The United States listed the koala as vulnerable in the year 2000. And yet, our Government continues to ignore the plight of the koala.

We absolutely need your help and from now on, I have the AKF Board’s permission to tell you the truth.  The truth about what I see each and every day when dealing with the Governments who are supposed to protect one of the greatest icons of the world.

I am outraged and I want you to be too.  If you feel the same, please tell our government - click here to write a Koala Campaigners letter to Mr Garrett today.

Yours sincerely, Deborah