Posted about 4 hours ago
Ratepayers on the Gold Coast will be charged a $3 koala tax from July this year in an Australian-first program to buy land to protect their habitat.
The tax will contribute towards a $10 million fund that the Gold Coast City Council will primarily use to purchase land.
The council said it is the first time a local government has created a levy specifically to help a species.
Mayor Tom Tate said there are a number of ways the fund will help protect koalas.
“We are going to be protecting the two main things that are dangerous to koalas — that is domestic dogs and getting hit by cars — so we will be spending money also to put in protective fence to areas that is of high risk to the koalas,” he said.
The city’s planning chair, Cameron Caldwell, said the koala fund is a great step forward in their conservation.
“I believe the $3 levy is a small price for all of us to pay,” he said.
“We can swap a coffee for a koala and I think that is a wonderful gesture for all Gold Coasters to make.”
Koalas losing habitat
The northern Gold Coast has become a battleground for koala conservation in recent years.
It is home to the East Coomera koalas, one of the biggest koala populations in south-east Queensland.
But the same area has also seen a housing boom in recent years with the suburbs of Coomera and Pimpama recording some of the largest population growths in Queensland.
That growth has contributed to East Coomera koalas losing a third of their habitat in the past decade.
Coomera Conservation Group spokeswoman Karina Waterman welcomed the koala tax.
“It is certainly a really interesting way of addressing the problem of how to get money to help koalas,” she said.
Ms Waterman said her organisation would judge the success of the tax and the koala fund on their ability to save animals.
“Do they manage to persist into the future? Will we see a decrease in spread of disease? Will we see a decrease in stress? Will we see a decrease in areas in what we would call overcrowding? Will we see a decrease in those things?” she said.
The conservationist said the tax could be replicated in other parts of the country if successful.