Sick koalas get $370,000 boost
SICK koalas will benefit from a $370,000 commitment from the State Government to open a koala sanctuary in Pottsville.
Deputy Premier and Regional NSW Minister John Barilaro joined Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Tweed Mayor Katie Milne at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital on Monday to make the announcement.
"Koalas are a national treasure and we want to protect them and care for them to ensure they are still here in the future,” Mr Barilaro said.
"This sanctuary will be a vital koala care facility in a network of hospitals the NSW Government is already establishing across the state.”
The $370,000 commitment will fund a holding facility for the rehabilitation of injured koalas with isolation pens for koalas infected with chlamydia to allow researchers to conduct vaccine trials to help tackle the disease. Funds will also be used to help grow a koala food tree plantation at the facility.
The sanctuary will be established on a 100ha site in Pottsville dedicated to koala habitat conservation by the State Government.
Mr Provest said the sanctuary would be developed and operated in partnership with the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.
"This is amazing news for our koalas and our community,” he said.
"Currumbin Wildlife Hospital already does a fantastic job looking after our koalas but this sanctuary will provide more space and better facilities to undertake new research.”
CWH veterinarian Dr Michael Pyne said the new facility would provide better care and rehabilitation for koalas recovering from illness or injuries and prepare them for release back into the wild.
Mayor Katie Milne said the commitment was "vitally needed in the area” as koalas in the Tweed and Byron Shires were endangered and at "further risk than the rest of the state”.
"The koalas are so beautiful and a national iconic species and nobody wants to lose them, it would be absolutely devastating and our community is completed dedicated to saving our koalas and community members are out there working really hard to make sure it doesn't happen, but we are in serious difficulty and we do need to rebalance our legislation, rebalance our priorities and funding, and this is a great first step but we do obviously need a lot more.”
Cr Milne said council would be building and managing the establishment of the sanctuary but sanctuary staff would look after the operations.
She said the sanctuary would be completed "as soon as possible” and was a "priority project” for the council.