Macarthur wildlife advocate Ricardo Lonza says Labor’s promise to establish a koala care centre in Macarthur as well as a 10,000 acre koala national park is the best thing he’s heard for a long time.
Labor has also promised that if elected next March they will put in place measures to ensure there are safety wildlife overpasses, underpasses and fences in hotspots such as Appin Road and Heathcote Road.
Mr Lonza, who has been calling for strong action on koalas for several years, said he was excited by Labor’s promise on koalas.
Mr Lonza raised the need for a koala hospital as recently as the last Campbelltown Council meeting on September 11.
“It really is the best thing I’ve heard for a long time,’’ he said after opposition leader Luke Foley announced details of the policy Labor will take to the next election.
Mr Foley said his three point plan was aimed at saving metropolitan Sydney’s last remaining koala colony.
About 400 koalas live along the Georges River in South West Sydney and it’s the only colony of koalas free from disease in NSW.
They are threatened by loss of habitat and traffic on increasingly busy roads that has resulted from major residential development.
Under the Labor plan 10,000 acres from Glenfield to Appin along the Georges River will be declared a koala national park.
The land is currently owned and managed by the state government and Campbelltown City Council.
Mr Foley said a state Labor Government would also allocate $3 million towards a koala care centre in the Macarthur region.
It would be based on the successful models of koala care centres in Lismore and Port Macquarie.
“Labor will work with the local Georges River Koala Network, local councils and local koala carers to establish the koala care centre in Macarthur,’’ Mr Foley said.
“Currently, the local community is reliant on the generosity of local veterinary services providing their services for free and volunteer rescuers and carers, trying to care for koalas in their homes.’’
A Labor Government would also ensure that infrastructure in surrounding areas is built with safeguards to protect the koala population.
This would include the construction of wildlife protection measures along roads like Appin Road and Heathcote Road such as overpasses, underpasses and fences.
State Member for Macquarie Fields Anoulack Chanthivong welcomed the announcement on koalas.
Mr Chanthivong said many comments from his recent Stop the Squeeze survey included concerns for native wildlife, with specific mention of our local healthy koalas.
“The Liberal Government’s overdevelopment agenda means koalas are increasingly being spotted in urban environments – clinging to fences to avoid domestic pets or tragically laying on the side of the road after being hit by a car,” he said.
“Continuing overdevelopment means this situation will only get worse.
Unique, precious and invaluable – these are all words that describe Campbelltown’s koala colony, was the response from his colleague Greg Warren, the member for Campbelltown.
“The population is the last disease-free koala colony in NSW which makes it arguably the most important colony in the state.
“That is why this NSW Labor will save our local koala,’’ Mr Warren said.