Team Koala spokeswoman Jenny Hayes is calling on candidates to declare where they stand on protecting koalas.
Team Koala spokeswoman Jenny Hayes is calling on candidates to declare where they stand on protecting koalas. John Gass

Koalas find favour with candidates

TWEED’S politicians have a warm and fuzzy spot for koalas, with all of them indicating they are dedicated to protecting the iconic Australian marsupial.

Koala champion Jenny Hayes this week called on all local state election candidates to reveal where they stood on saving koalas.

Ms Hayes said the group Team Koala was asking all the candidates “what they are offering our koalas”.

It hasn’t taken long for candidates to express their support for the animals and list their promises. They differ starkly, however, in how they would go about saving koalas.

Sitting Nationals MP for Tweed, Geoff Provest, said “we should do all in our power to protect them, provided it is done with proper scientific research and planning”.

He warned without such planning even the best of intentions could have disastrous consequences.

“I’m led to believe by locals at the back of Pottsville that an area was locked up about 10 to 15 years ago, then a bushfire came through and destroyed up to 100 koalas,” he said.

“You’ve got to have a management plan for it.”

Labor candidate for Tweed Reece Byrnes said Labor had committed to a $16 million program to protect koala habitats throughout NSW.

However he warned if “Mr Provest gets his way” and planning laws known as Part 3A – which allow the government to take over approval of developments – are abolished, specific safeguards would be “thrown away”.

“The biggest threat to Tweed koalas is Mr Provest and Barry O’Farrell wanting to over-develop Tweed by dumping Part 3A,” he said.

In stark contrast Greens candidate Andrea Vickers said her party was calling for the repeal of the Part 3A planning laws, which she said were used to “take planning power away from councils”.

“Tweed Council can work with experts and the community to create a recovery plan that actively helps the koala population recover,” she said.



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