Koala protection bill splits Australian state govt


Sydney: Leaders in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) were in crisis mode Friday, after a proposed legislation to better protect koalas caused a rift in the governing coalition.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro threatened to vote against the laws proposed by his National party, which would see farmers responsible for preserving koala habitats on their land, and prohibit certain developments deemed to have too greater impact on the environment, reports Xinhua news agency.

A report handed to the state parliament in June has warned that NSW’s koala population could be entirely extinct by 2050 if current trends continued.

It also estimated that roughly 5,000 koalas had perished in the devastating 2019-20 wildfires.

Barilaro argued that the laws would significantly impact already struggling farmers’ livelihoods and refused to support the bill unless amendments were made.

However, party leader and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was a long standing convention ministers support government legislation, saying that if Barilaro were to vote down the koala protection laws, he could not remain as deputy.

Following an emergency meeting on Monday morning, Barilaro relented and agreed not to vote against the bill pending continued talks.

The law is an updated version of a recently repealed State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for Koala Habitat Protection, which would see landowners required to provide more evidence that proposed developments would not impact habitats.