Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Moreton Electorate: Koala Habitat
Moreton is a city electorate. We have the Brisbane River to the north, but we also have large swathes of green, like Oxley Creek Common and Toohey Forest Park. It is 260 hectares that I try to walk through every day that I'm back in Brisbane. Toohey Forest abuts bushland owned and managed by Griffith University. Griffith Uni also has the world's No. 1 koala scientist, Darryl Jones. This forest is an amazing asset, just 10 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD. It has koalas, echidnas and a great variety of bird life. There are jet planes flying low overhead and dogs off leash, but still these koalas are surviving.
When Labor was last in government federally, the environment minister listed koala populations in Queensland as 'vulnerable' under our national environment laws. The effects of drought, climate change and disease continue to have a devastating effect on these koala populations, which are already very vulnerable. Urban expansion is threatening these precious koala habitats. The loss of vegetation, the impact of roadways and vehicles and the threat of domestic animals like dogs continue to threaten the very existence of our iconic furry friends. All three levels of government need to be conscious of protecting our koalas.
The Brisbane City Council, under the Liberal-National Party's Lord Mayor Quirk, should have regard to the vulnerable koala populations in Toohey Forest when it considers any planning applications in the region. High-density living close to the CBD is obviously convenient and make sense, but more people means more cars on roads like Orange Grove Road, which goes straight through this habitat. The domestic animals that live nearby normally have an impact on koalas as well.
Federally, we know the laws governments make—or don't make—to reduce climate change and limit emissions will have an impact on our vulnerable koala populations. Just this week, we heard the Prime Minister capitulate on his fourth energy policy, or is it his fifth? I can't keep up. Now, effectively, the Liberal and National political parties have no emissions target in their policy at all—not in legislation, not in regulation. There is none at all. The Liberals and Nationals have effectively abandoned the Paris commitment, which was a minimum commitment anyway. This is irresponsible and selfish and flies in the face of the realities facing this continent.
Labor has clear policies in place that we'll be taking to the next election, whenever that might be, which include ending national energy policy uncertainty and achieving a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. Labor is committed to the conservation of our native animals. As I said, when we were last in government we listed koalas under national environmental laws. It is not only our precious native terrestrial animals we care about; we also care about the marine park network. The coalition government, fundamentally, does not care about conservation, it does not care about climate change and it does not care about protecting our precious native animals like the Toohey Forest koala population.