TAMWORTH MP Kevin Anderson has applauded the NSW Government’s $44 million koala strategy in parliament despite question marks remaining over what benefits his electorate will see.
Mr Anderson highlighted the role of of the state government to look after koalas in the New England and North West, however local environmentalists are skeptical as to whether the koala capital will see any benefits.
“The environment minister, Ms Gabrielle Upton, has had a significant role to play in looking after our koalas across the state, and in particular in the New England North West, with Gunnedah being the koala capital of the world,” Mr Anderson said in Parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Anderson’s plaudits have not been shared by local koala activists like Tamworth ecologist Phil Spark who told The Namoi Valley Independent last month he believed the strategy was more focused on the state’s north coast.
“It seems to me that the North West, the inland side of the range has not been significantly addressed in the strategy,” Mr Spark said.
“I have concerns that most of the emphasis is targeted towards the coastal regions and the issues that are affecting koalas on this side of the range are still not really being addressed.”
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said he remained confident the koala capital would see specific benefits from the strategy.
“Council has submitted an application for funding for a koala park in Gunnedah,” Cr Chaffey said.
“We are currently waiting on a response in regards to that funding and are hopeful of seeing a positive outcome.”
When the strategy was first announced, Mr Anderson said Gunnedah was not mentioned by name but believed the region would benefit from the funding.
“In a lot of respects Gunnedah is ahead of the curve in terms of koala research and protection and is already receiving or has received funding for projects similar to those announced for the Mid-North Coast,” he said.
“We have been supporting local koala conservation for years with different projects and funding up until recently with funding announced through the Save Our Species program and the Blinky Drinkers program as well.”