PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS:

Extract from Hansard – Thursday 1 September, 2016

Koalas

Mr ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (2.33 pm): I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the flippant remarks about protecting koalas in their environment made by the Minister for Environment regarding the comparison of policies between the previous LNP government and this increasingly irrelevant Labor government.

The minister made reference to koala habitat in the electorate of Glass House bought during our term and the fact that only one koala lived on this block. I do not know whether the minister spent some time creeping through the undergrowth to identify this lone ‘Kenny Koala’ or dispatched a task force of rangers to do the work for him. The point is that, unlike the Labor government this year, the LNP actually purchased land suitable for koala habitat not only in the electorate of Glass House but also in my own electorate of Noosa where a sizable portion of land was purchased at 470 Lake MacDonald Drive.

Labor has the unique ability to spin a policy line while doing nothing substantive about ensuring the success of the policy being spun. This is clearly the case for the koalas of South-East Queensland. I congratulate Andrew Powell on the work he did for the previous government and advise that I have already had many proactive discussions with Dr Christian Rowan, the shadow environment minister, about the survival of koalas in South-East Queensland.

Friday, 30 September is national Save the Koala Day. A lunch is being held on Noosa’s Makepeace Island, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson and Brett Godfrey, to raise funds to save koalas. I understand that the minister is attending the event and I am hoping for some good news from him. There is exciting news ahead as I understand that Sir Richard and Brett Godfrey are developing a plan to address the future of this unique animal.

The current government needs to start thinking outside the square to ensure the survival of koalas. Preliminary estimates in the new South East Queensland Regional Plan suggest that an additional two million people will be living in the south-east by 2041. Where will the koalas fit in? Work was being done towards the end of our term in government to conduct a trial to again translocate koalas into the Noosa National Park. This could be achieved in other areas purchased for koala habitat, and it is time for the government to act.

As I have said before in this place, if as a community we lose the battle to maintain healthy koala populations in South-East Queensland, then we have lost the war to maintain the environment in which these wonderful creatures live.