Thursday, 12 May 2011

Senate Inquiry into the Status of Koalas

When the federal government failed to decide whether or not to list koala as a nationally threatened species, Senator Bob Brown’s promised Senate Inquiry into the Status, Health and Sustainability of Koalas got underway on Tuesday, 3 May

By information tabled at the Inquiry it is suspected there can hardly be any more information left to dredge up for further scientific review. For over 25 years scientists have studied koala habits, habitat, health and requirements, and issues that affect them, while for the last 7 years the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has worked at reaching an accurate estimate of numbers remaining in Australia. By this research AKF has concluded a most positive estimate of 85,000 koalas remaining, with numbers likely to be closer to a lowest estimate of 45,000 animals. 

                                                                  Photo: P Edwards

The only industry represented at the Inquiry was the Urban Development Institute, renowned for its statement that to list koala federally will threaten future development in Australia. While it is understood that industries operate by their own regulatory legislation, which does not include protecting koalas, AKF has called for the coal mining, forestry, coal seam gas, energy and road industries to be represented at the next hearing, to be held in Canberra, May 19th, so all points can be properly assessed and that clichéed “level playing-field” so frequently aired by industry groups can be finally attained.

A level playing-field is precisely the aim of conservation lobbyists, to replace the industry-weighted decisions that have weighed against koala and other wildlife species for far too long.

At the Inquiry the AKF laid its wishes on the line - no more research until the simple act of listing the koala and protecting food tree species occurs. Stop destroying koala food trees, and all negative issues will be resolved, then the process of unravelling the science can continue at leisure.  

As Senator Brown said on the day - “It is not the job (of volunteers) to protect the koala, it is the job of the Australian government.”

Amen to that.

              P. Edwards