WAV Comment: Ask many people around the world what they consider to be an ‘iconic’ representation of Australia; and you will probably often get a reply of either the Koala bear or the Kangaroo.
You would thus think then that after all these years / decades of Australian government environmental destruction and habitat loss for the Koala, something would (or certainly should) have been done by either past or current Australian governments to protect and retain such an icon as the Koala.
You would like to think also that the current so-called ‘Environment Minister; one Sussan Ley, would care a little more about protecting the environment and its flora and fauna (including the Koala) rather than prioritising her own ascension of the political ladder; but I think we are wrong.
Instead, Scott ‘Coal Hugger’ Morrison, the Prime Minister, and Ms Ley both appear to have their own survival at the top of their priorities, rather than the environment and the protection of wonderful animal species such as the Koala, who are now in dire (survival) straits and, according to reports, face extinction by 2050 if very drastic if urgent action is not taken.
So what do we hear ? – now, with Koala on the brink of extinction and the global witnessing of its habit being slashed and burned, the Morrison government announces $50m to help the species – wow, $50m !! – very much a case of ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’.(in this case a bolt of 20 years ago) as we say in the UK. And they think this paltry sum of cash is going to resolve the issue and make them look like ‘environmental heroes’ ? – this amount of money is Australian peanuts when compared to the amount that the Australian government has invested / subsidised into the coal industry for example – Coal production subsidies cost Australians $1.8bn a year | RenewEconomy – Coal production subsidies cost Australians $1.8bn a year.
And Australian voters; don’t they ever get a grip on how they are seen around the world; putting ticks in boxes for politicians who appear to care very little about environmental issues – Morrison, a modern day ‘Nero’ playing with coal whilst Australia burned, literally. History tells us that not only did Nero play music while his people suffered; but he was also an ineffectual leader in any time of crisis. I can see the obvious similarities between the two; can you ? and much more importantly; can the Australian voters ?
Terrible live animal exports continue, the massive over usage of antibiotics in farmed animals continue to be used in farming, iconic species heading for extinction continue; coal production continues to be subsidised by a carefree government; whilst Australian politicians also try to escape from having to appear at COP environmental conferences held recently in Scotland (UK); and still the Australian public vote them in !! – amazing, or stupid.
Who is the ‘crazy Nero’ one has to ask ? – the slash and burn Australian politician, or the care less Australian voter.
Mr Coal Hugger
By the way, there is nothing ‘Honourable’ about either of them – quite the opposite.
Koala listed as endangered after Australian governments fail to halt its decline
The Australian government has officially listed the koala as endangered after a decline in its numbers due to land clearing and catastrophic bushfires shrinking its habitat.
The environment minister, Sussan Ley, accepted the recommendation of the threatened species scientific committee that the koala populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory should have their conservation status upgraded.
The stronger listing under national law is recognition that the koala’s plight has become more urgent and that successive Australian governments have failed to turn the much-loved animal’s circumstances around since it was listed as vulnerable in 2012.
It comes after the Morrison government last month announced $50m to help the species. The funding was welcomed by environment groups but described as a “drop in the ocean” if the root causes of the species’ decline were not addressed.
Ley said in addition to the endangered listing, the government planned to adopt a long-awaited national recovery plan for the koala.
“Today I am increasing the protection for koalas in NSW, the ACT and Queensland, listing them as endangered rather than their previous designation of vulnerable,” Ley said.
“The impact of prolonged drought, followed by the black summer bushfires, and the cumulative impacts of disease, urbanisation and habitat loss over the past twenty years have led to the advice.”
Environment groups have long argued the koala’s conservation status should be upgraded. Three organisations – Humane Society International (HSI), WWF-Australia and the International Fund for Animal Welfare – nominated it for the endangered listing.
“The koala has gone from no listing to now being declared endangered on the Australian east coast within a decade,” said Dermot O’Gorman, WWF-Australia’s chief executive.
“That is a shockingly fast decline for one of the world’s most iconic animals. The endangered status is a grim but important decision by minister Ley.
“There is still time to save this globally iconic species if the uplisting serves as a turning point in koala conservation. We need stronger laws and landholder incentives to protect their forest homes.”
The endangered listing will provide additional protection for koalas because it lowers the threshold at which a development must be assessed under national laws for potentially significant impacts on the species.
The recovery plan sets out the key threats to the koala and actions needed to prevent its extinction.
Such a plan had been identified under national environmental laws as a requirement for the species for the past nine years but no Australian government had developed one, making it one of almost 200 recovery plans for Australia’s threatened species and habitats that were overdue.
It took the black summer bushfire disaster to prompt consultation on a draft, with a final version delivered to the minister late last year.
Once a recovery plan is adopted, ministers are legally bound not to make decisions that are inconsistent with it, however governments have no obligation to actually implement the plan.
The koala is under pressure from multiple ongoing threats including disease, global heating and clearing of its habitat for development.
In 2020, a NSW parliamentary inquiry found the species would be extinct in that state by 2050 unless governments took urgent action to protect its habitat and turn the declines around.
Alexia Wellbelove, a senior campaign manager at HSI, said Ley’s decision should prompt Australian governments to do more to address the declining state of the country’s environment.
“Although it’s devastating for the koala it’s an important action for their protection,” she said.
“It’s a cue for governments really to take a stand against continued habitat clearing for koalas. We can’t just continue business as usual.”
Wellbelove said the decision needed to be followed by action on the review of national environmental laws by the former competition watchdog head, Graeme Samuel.
Samuel found Australian governments had comprehensively failed in their duty to protect the environment and the country’s iconic wildlife had suffered because of it.
He made 38 recommendations to transform the act, including a proposal for new national environmental standards that require clear outcomes for Australia’s plants and animals.
“Until such time that we have strong national environmental standards that specify no-go areas around critical habitat for species such as the koala, habitat destruction will continue and this must be addressed urgently,” Wellbelove said.