Koala massacre disgrace highlights need for federal action now

07 February 2020

Labor is calling on the Federal Environment Minister to take action to ensure federal environment laws impose strict penalties for acts of deliberate animal death, following the apparent massacre of koalas at Cape Bridgewater.

It is apparent that numerous Cape Bridgewater koalas are dead, injured and starving.

The images we have seen are sickening, incredibly distressing and an absolute disgrace.

Tragically, there appears to be no protections for this Victorian Koala population under federal law, given they are not listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act.

The Victorian Conservation Regulator and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning are investigating under Victorian state law. 

Those found to have breached the law should face the full force of the law.

Existing protections and penalties for animal deaths of this nature are simply not tough enough.

National icons like the koala need federal protection, including in instances where their status is not considered to be vulnerable, based on historical data.

Following the bushfire crisis, more data is needed to immediately determine threats and the status of Australian species. But this government has been slow to act on the bushfire crisis and the resultant ecological crisis.

Australians expect the Morrison Government to be doing more to protect national icons like the koala after thousands have perished during the bushfires.

More than one billion animals have died during the bushfire crisis.

Labor has called for a comprehensive ecological audit in response to the bushfires, but the Morrison Government’s feeble attempt to assess and address damage to our species so far, has fallen well short of the expectations of Australians who are devastated by the widespread animal deaths and habitat destruction.

Labor is calling on the Federal government to immediately work with the states to implement tougher standards and penalties for instances of this nature, at state and federal level, as a matter of urgency.

The expert panel review of the EPBC Act led by Professor Graham Samuel should also look at expanded protections for our vital species and tougher penalties as a matter of priority.