Government must act on koala habitat destruction

13 April 2020

Today’s reports of koala habitat destruction shows the Morrison government is failing to do enough to protect the iconic Australian species, Terri Butler said.

“If the Morrison government is approving projects on the basis that destroyed habitats will be offset, then the public needs to be able to be confident those conditions will be enforced,” she said.

“Our country needs a rigorous enforcement approach to ensure compliance with environmental laws.

“That means industry needs to respect the environment department as a regulator, and they must believe there is a genuine risk of being prosecuted if they do the wrong thing.

“The environment department has reportedly had its funding cut by almost 40% since the Liberal National government took office.

“With the thousands of koala deaths during the recent national bushfire crisis, it has never been more urgent for the government to take strong and decisive action to protect the koala.

“The government was slow to act on the fires and on the resultant ecological crisis. We called for a comprehensive ecological audit – with boots on the ground and in-the-field monitoring – to assess the extent of the damage, but that did not happen. 

“Now, the government must not drop the ball when it comes to protecting our iconic species. 

“The nation is weathering the storm of the coronavirus pandemic. While they are tending to their loved ones and working on the frontlines, Australians expect their government to continue to do its job, including in relation to protecting this beloved, iconic Australian species,” she said.

Labor calls on the Morrison government to:

  • strengthen the environment department’s enforcement and compliance activities, and ensure the department is resourced adequately to be able to carry them out; and
  • work with the states to implement tougher standards and penalties for acts of deliberate animal death in light of this year’s apparent koala massacre at Cape Bridgewater.