The Hon. Melinda Pavey MP, Member for Oxley, has reacted angrily to Bellingen Shire Council exercising its democratic rights to choose a sustainable future by voting to support the Great Koala National Park and a just exit from native forest logging on public land.
Ms Pavey is trying to stoke fear and division when we should be coming together to protect our natural wonders, water supply and help tackle climate change. Just yesterday, the Australian Senate launched an inquiry into our threatened species crisis. The Senate has finally noticed what most people know: that we’re rapidly eroding the wildlife that makes our country unique.
Contrast this with Ms Pavey’s Government’s proposals to abandon any pretence of sustainability by introducing an intensive harvesting zone in prime koala habitat and rezoning protected old-growth to mine the last scraps of timber from the landscape. The damage this destruction will inflict on our nature based tourism industry seems to have been ignored by the our local MP.
We need to get real and take steps to protect our wildlife before it’s too late. The forests around Bellingen are some of the most diverse on earth. This is something we should all treasure, not mindlessly destroy. The fact that we are also the NSW koala capital gives us a huge opportunity to create the Great Koala National Park and be Australia’s most desirable tourist destination!
Everybody—including the timber industry—knows that public forests have been hopelessly overcut and that timber resources are all but gone. One multinational, Boral, gets the vast majority of the remaining wood. The Government’s own figures show there are a maximum of 1,100 people employed in mills between Newcastle and Queensland. Things are going to get worse, because climate change, forest dieback and historic overcutting mean that the timber resource faces huge uncertainty.
The answer to this is not to destroy what’s left and log protected areas as Ms Pavey’s Government is proposing. The answer is to chart a new, optimistic future and help those affected make a transition.
There are other options for flooring besides using koala habitat. There are other options for building, like cross-laminated and acetylated timber. And switching to recycled plastic pallets would help deal with our waste crisis now that China doesn’t want our rubbish. Embracing these options would create jobs for the future as well as protecting the environment. It just requires leadership and vision to make it happen.
We believe that our community has the skills, smarts and optimism to overcome the challenges that face us and thrive in a new future. This has happened in the past when we ended koala hunting and whaling. It’s called progress—genuine progress, where we learn to live with other lifeforms that share our space, rather than do our best to wipe them out.
It is high time that the Member for Oxley starts to think seriously about what legacy she will leave this region. We need our MPs to work with us to develop a vision for our community that is ecologically sustainable and long term not the usual short term old politics captured by an election cycle.
That’s why many people in my community will keep building support for the Great Koala National Park. It’s the best bet for koalas and for a sustainable future for our region.