Councils condemn rushed and inadequate
Friday, 7 February 2020
Queensland councils call on the Palaszczuk Government to urgently rethink its rushed and inadequate koala mapping and planning reforms with thousands of hectares of locally known habitat excluded from protection as of today.
A meeting of the Local Government Association of Queensland’s policy executive – a body of Mayors and councillors representing the state’s 77 councils – this morning condemned the Government for ignoring local knowledge and the views of stakeholders to recklessly rush through new regulations that could further devastate the nation’s vulnerable koala populations.
The policy executive resolved to today write to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, State Development Minister Cameron Dick and Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch to express their disappointment at the Government’s decision to completely disregard the views of stakeholders and put koala populations at further risk.
“The country’s koala population is in crisis following the recent devastating bushfires,” LGAQ President Mayor Mark Jamieson said.
“There would not be a Queenslander who wasn’t touched by the heart-wrenching images of burnt and dehydrated koalas impacted by the bushfire crisis.
“Voters would rightly expect the Queensland Government to be doing everything it could to protect our koala population.
“Now is not the time to allow thousands of hectares of known local koala habitat to go unprotected.
“This Government has bungled this process. They have shifted policy at the eleventh hour and continually failed to consult properly. They have ignored the views of councils and they have legislated inferior mapping as a result in what local governments see as a failure of governance.
“Councils were given almost no time over the Christmas break to review the mapping. They were also given no notice of today’s regulations, only learning through an early morning email.
“This is inexcusable.”
Mayor Jamieson said councils also condemned the scale and breadth of the exemptions available under the new mapping – such as an exemption for state government development projects including State Development areas and Priority Development Areas.
Acting Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Mike Charlton called for an urgent rethink.
“Moreton Bay Regional Council has more than 15,000 hectares of vegetation under local mapping where koalas have been spotted that will now be unprotected under the Government’s new mapping,” Cr Charlton said.
“The State needs to withdraw the regulations immediately and come back to the table to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the state’s koala population.
“We cannot have a situation where known local koala populations are at risk.”
Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams expressed shock at the poor community engagement around the reforms.
“Passing legislation that puts at risk our already vulnerable koala population is bad enough, but to completely ignore feedback from the community and industry experts when doing so really takes the cake.
“Our community has been waiting to review the proposed legislative reforms in combination with the revised mapping so they could fully understand the proposed changes. Now without notice we find out that the legislative reforms commenced today, which really raises the question as to how genuine the engagement was in the first place.”
Redland City Council estimates more than 7,500 hectares of known koala habitat has been removed by the State’s mapping and will now go unprotected with thousands more hectares to be left unprotected in the Somerset Regional Council area.
For more information, please contact:
Sarah Vogler, Media Executive
Phone: 0438 447 370
Local Government Association of Queensland