Rushed NSW Amendment Bill risks already imperilled koala populations

By : Humane Society International October 20, 2020

Humane Society International (HSI) condemns an amendment to the Local Land Services Act 2013 (NSW) being rushed through parliament this week that will result in the destruction of vital koala habitat across the state.

On 14 October 2020, the NSW Government quietly introduced the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020, a piece of legislation that will remove many hard-won gains made for koala protection over the past 25 years.

The Bill comes just months after a Parliamentary Inquiry found that without effective intervention, koalas will become extinct in NSW by 2050, and weeks after apparent division on koala protection between the NSW Nationals and Liberals made headlines. A vote on the Bill is expected as early as today.

Evan Quartermain, Head of Programs at HSI, said, "The NSW Government is well aware koalas are on their way to extinction in NSW by 2050 without effective intervention, yet their support for this Bill will put koalas in even more danger.” 

Analysis of the Bill by the Environmental Defenders Office has found that it allows for:

  • unregulated land clearing of koala habitat not already identified in rural areas;
  • the prevention of expanded koala habitat protection on private farmland into the future; and
  • the exemption of Private Native Forestry operations from important development consents, with their durations doubled from 15 to 30 years.

"After making a great song and dance about standing up to the Nationals it seems the NSW Liberals have backed down completely and are looking to rush koala-harming legislation through while attention is elsewhere,” concluded Mr Quartermain.

This Bill poses a serious danger to koalas in NSW, as the loss, modification, and fragmentation of their habitat is considered a key threat to their survival. 

Earlier this year, HSI jointly nominated NSW koala populations (along with QLD and ACT populations) for increased protection at both the state and federal level. Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley added the NSW population to a list for priority assessment by the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

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