In our new environment series with Dorothee Babeck, we will be looking at the background to the koala politics in NSW today. Dorothee Babeck has been very actively involved in environmental protection for several years. In the future we will discuss topics such as coal mining, climate change and the Tarkine Forest. - On Thursday (19.11.) the much disputed revised bill "for the protection of koalas" was rejected in the NSW Senate by the vote of Senator Catherine Cusack (Liberals), as she voted with the opposition. This then led to her immediate dismissal by Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian, who declared that a policy to protect koalas and farmers' interests should be developed in the new year. You can find out what this draft law means in this interview with Dorothee Babeck.
If the koalas don't have contiguous areas anymore, they cannot reproduce and it is estimated that they will be extinct by 2050. Before the Europeans colonised the continent, there were up to 10 million koalas, according to a 2011 report by the Australian Federal Government. Until the 1930s, the animals were hunted for their fur and to this day they are threatened by human population growth, urban development, forestry, mining and agriculture. In 2018, the Australian Koala Foundation estimated that there were less than 100,000, possibly only 43,000 in the wild. The bushfires of 2019-20 have further reduced population estimates enormously.
In July 2020, a report was presented that proposed steps and legislative changes to save the koala. Initially, the government in NSW was also in favour, then came the so-called Koala Wars - and, as a compromise, the bill (its revision) discussed on the 19th of November 2020 in the Senate was rejected. According to environmentalists, it would defeat the environmental and animal welfare goals in favour of the timber and paper industry.