Media Release: Labor’s Great Koala National Park bad for North Coast communities

NSW Labor has committed, if elected, to establishing a Great Koala National Park in northern NSW to counter alleged declining koala populations.

Liberal Democrat’s lead candidate for the Legislative Council, David Leyonhjelm, has vowed to oppose this.

“There is no evidence that koala populations are in decline in northern NSW,” former Senator Leyonhjelm said.

An extensive research effort undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries over three years has shown that koala occupancy was influenced by elevation, cover of important browse trees, site productivity and the extent of bushfires in the last ten years.

Previous timber harvesting did not influence koala occupancy with no difference between heavily harvested, lightly harvested and old growth sites. The study also found evidence that the koala population in north-east forests was ten times higher than previously estimated.

“This independent study undermines both Labors’ and environmental groups’ rationale for closing down the timber industry in northern NSW by creating this large new park,” Mr Leyonhjelm said.

“With no discernible effect from timber harvesting on koala populations, the Labor party should be standing up for local jobs rather than kowtowing to environmental activists who will use any excuse to close the timber industry.

“The Liberal Democrats have faith in the evidence that koala populations are not affected by sustainably managed timber harvesting. We respect the timber industry, which harvests less than three per cent of the forest reserve in any one year, all of which is replanted after harvesting.

“The Liberal Democrats will not abandon local jobs to the whims of activists who ignore the facts to carry out their own long-term agenda of shutting down timber harvesting.”

David Leyonhjelm is standing for the Legislative Council and Greg Renet is standing for the Legislative Assembly seat of Coffs Harbour at the state election on Saturday.

Media: Kate Fantinel 0401 620 227

Kate.Fantinel@aph.gov.au