A plan to protect NSW koalas is expected to be unveiled ‘very soon’ as a state minister made a frank admission.
A $193m plan to save koalas in NSW will be announced “very soon” as the state Environment Minister concedes the government “needs to do a lot better” to protect the iconic species.
Environment Minister Matt Kean was grilled by the opposition on Tuesday over the government’s record for protecting the species.
“It’s a matter of public record that I don’t think the government is doing enough to protect koalas,” Mr Kean told the budget estimates hearing.
“We need to do a lot better.”
The $193m five-year koala strategy was unveiled in the recent state budget.
When pressed by the opposition over the strategy’s lack of detail and when it would be revealed, Mr Kean replied: “Very soon … $193 million is the biggest investment that we’ve seen in NSW for koalas.
“It will focus on things like protecting koala habitat, it’ll focus on things like research and counting koalas, it will focus on things like translocations.”
When questioned about whether the money had come from a 25 per cent cut to the state’s Saving our Species program, Mr Kean said it was “new money”.
Opposition environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe took the government to task for failing to implement only four of 26 key actions from the 2018-2021 koala conservation strategy.
They included a portal for public reports, designating a museum for dead koalas, data collection of koala habitats and an app to collect information about them.
“Of the entire koala strategy they are the four things that have been completed in three years. Do you think that’s acceptable, minister?” Ms Sharpe asked.
“No, I don’t. I think it’s a matter of public record that this government needs to do a lot more if we’re going to protect our koalas,” Mr Kean replied.
“You’ve been in charge for the last three years and it’s worse?” Ms Sharpe said.
“We haven’t done good enough when it comes to protecting koalas. They’re massively under threat,” Mr Kean replied.
“The government could do a lot more, and we’ll be announcing a very comprehensive plan that’s been developed with some of the best scientists in the country.”
Mr Kean said the strategy involved buying land to safeguard koalas’ future and adding it to national parkland.
Originally published as NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean concedes government needs to do more to protect koalas
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