Killer Koala Rally
Over 400 people expressed their alarm at rezoning of Western Sydney bushland which will negatively impact NSW’s last healthy populations of wild koalas at a rally on Sunday. TEC was there!
COMMUNITY COMES OUT FOR KOALAS
Kwanky Koala didn't have a megaphone but several local politicians, councillors, and activists spoke to the extremely responsive assembled (see full list of speakers below) beneath a crisp winter's sky. Hundreds of locals and other koala lovers converged on the roadside waving placards and chanting "Save Sydney's Koalas!"
22 Koalas have been killed on Appin Road since 2015 and 9 this year. People were obviously feeling upset and worried about the fate the of local koala community as traffic intensifies. A dual carriageway on Appin Road has been proposed to accomodate the subdivision of koala habitat which looks to install tens of thousands of new human homes in an area hitherto much loved for its heritage landscapes, wildlife and bushland. The impact on critical koala habitat and escape routes, or corridors, has been extensively documented by ecologists, wildlife carers and environment groups.
Several key councils in the Greater South West - Liverpool, Camden, and Wollondilly - were represented at the rally although Campbelltown Council, the only one to approve the Mt Gilead development proposal which will transform the entire area, was not represented.
The Liverpool councillor Karress Rhodes made the point that the Mount Annan Botanical Gardens could be the only reserve of its kind in the world with a wild koala population, if the corridors allowing koala migrations are preserved.
Speakers unanimously agreed that no new housing development proposals should ever have been approved without the creation of a cogent and detailed Koala Preservation Strategy, with the full backing of all state Government departments. Koalas homes and movements must be considered first - rather than last, in the race to subdivide.
Instead of destroying the last healthy population of wild koalas why hasn't Campbelltown Council and the Department of Planning capitalised on the one-off opportunity to create Campbelltown’s ‘Koala Country’ within cooee of Sydney's new international airport?
"Such a plan, while affording the necessary Koala protections, would underpin a long term tourism industry for the South West," said TEC's Urban Campaigner Saul Deane.
"The Mount Gilead property not only supports koala habitat but is littered with First Contact, Frontier Wars and other indigenous and colonial artefacts and buildings," said Mr Deane.
"In its entirety, this heritage landscape is a rare and significant link to our colonial past which should be preserved for future generations. To think it might all go under the hammer is shocking."
At the end of the day, Mr Deane had one question for Premier Berejiklian.
"What is the value of turning this irreplaceable national asset into a commuter satellite town which is further from Sydney's CBD than the Blue Mountains?"
Speaking to the rally at its climax, Pat Durman from National Parks Association Macarthur branch, pointed out that Mt Gilead represents a significant tourist asset, that should be incorporated into the region's green infrastructure and economic plan. The crowd agreed.
TEC wants to know, what is the State Government's long term economic sustainability plan for South West Sydney?
List of Speakers:
Greg Warren - Member for Cambelltown at parliament of NSW
Sally Quinnell - Labor Candidate for Camden
Nea Makowski - Activist
Penny Sharpe - Labor MLC
Geoff Francis - conservationist and dedicated koala tracker
Matthew Deeth - (Wollondilly Councillor) spoke in place of Judy Hannan, the mayor of Wollondilly shire.
Karress Rhodes - Liverpool councillor
Mark Pearson - an MLC for Animal Justice party in NSW (the first person to be elected by Australians to be a voice for animals).
Ben Em - Councillor at Cambelltown city council
Cate Ryan - WIRES koala co-ordinator for Macarthur
Pat Durman - National Parks Association Macarthur branch
Ben Moroney - Campbelltown Greens Councillor
What Can You Do?
Endorse our Koala Statement to help stop this mistaken development destroying local history and natural heritage.