Council considers Next Steps after Koala Petition Debate
Posted on: 03.10.2018
Last Thursday Wollondilly Council’s 13,158 signature koala petition was debated in State Parliament, with the significance of the largest chlamydia free koala population in NSW highlighted by both sides of politics.
The extensive work that has been carried out surveying and mapping the Macarthur koala population was acknowledged during the debate and the various speakers, including Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell, Campbelltown MP Greg Warren and Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong, all stated their commitment to looking after the local koalas.
Council’s Sustainability Projects Officer Damion Stirling attended the debate along with Wollondilly Councillors Matthew Deeth, Matt Gould and Michael Banasik.
Mr Stirling noted, “Disappointingly, the debate in Parliament did not address the terms of the petition, specifically the impact of the Wilton South East rezoning on the Allen’s Creek koala corridor and the need for a Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management across the Greater Macarthur and Wilton Growth Areas.”
“Some big questions still remain, such as what actions will be put in place to protect the koala corridors connecting the Upper Georges River to the Nepean, Cataract and Bargo River,” he said.
“We are waiting on the review of the finalised SEPP 44 for koala habitat protection and for the updated koala food tree and habitat species list to be adopted and used in the strategic conservation planning of growth areas.”
“We would also like to know when biocertification of the growth areas will be completed and what conservation measures will be put in place to protect the extent of koala habitat corridors, as mapped by the Office of Environment & Heritage.”
In the meantime, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced a plan on Sunday to establish Sydney's first koala national park at Smiths Creek Reserve, a section of bushland located between homes in Campbelltown.
Mr Stirling welcomed the idea of a koala park as a big step forward in the protection of the region’s nationally significant koala population, however the plan does not include substantial protection of habitat within the Wollondilly.
Important milestones including a Deed of Agreement between Walker Corporation and Council have recently been reached and the issue is now on the State election agenda, however the campaign to ensure the protection of the Wollondilly koalas is far from over.
Council has been informed that a formal response to the petition will be sent to Council, however no time frame has been given for that to occur.
Council will await the formal response and then consider its next steps towards saving our valuable koala habitat.