Tanya Plibersek will have the final say on dozens of developments that could affect koalas

State governments are the primary authority for planning approvals and environmental management. However, any development proposal that could affect matters of national environmental concern, including endangered species such as koalas, must be reviewed by the federal government under the Biodiversity Conservation Protection Act.

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Plibersek has announced that she will be adding new protections for wildlife to national laws and has promised to publish draft laws by the middle of next year, but details are yet to be finalized and there is no deadline for the changes to be finalized.

A spokesman for Plibersek said the government understands the urgent need for action and has already responded, including by investing $75 million in habitat preservation and federal environmental protection reform to improve oversight of development permits.

“A key element of this reform is the establishment of an Environmental Protection Agency, which will make independent decisions on proposed developments,” the spokesman said.

“The new laws, due to be brought before Parliament in 2023, will make the environment better, make decisions faster and make it easier for companies to do the right thing.”

The federal government has also begun working with the NSW and Queensland governments on a ‘traffic light’ system for development assessments, with green zones where projects would be exempt from national laws and red zones where development would be prohibited.

Green Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Labor government is showing a lack of urgency when it comes to protecting koalas.

Green Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Labor government is showing a lack of urgency when it comes to protecting koalas.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

It is estimated that up to a third of NSW’s koalas – about 10,000 animals – died in the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires and preceding drought, while Queensland’s population has shrunk by about 50 per cent over the past decade is.

Experts have said the new planning system could increase development’s impact on threatened species if proposed national environmental standards do not provide greater safeguards against habitat loss.

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Australia is a world leader in mammalian extinctions, and since European settlement, about 100 unique species have been wiped out from the planet. The rate of loss is as high in Australia as anywhere in the world and has not slowed for the last 200 years.

Humane Society International campaigns director Nicola Beynon said the Albanian government must rule out further habitat loss and reverse the trend of dwindling koala populations in NSW and Queensland.

“The national standard for endangered species is not likely to be introduced until later next year. But if we’re going to stop extinction, we need to break that line in the sand now, not wait for the standard to be passed by Parliament,” Beynon said.

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https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/plibersek-faces-140-decisions-pitting-koalas-against-development-20221227-p5c90d.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_politics_federal Tanya Plibersek will have the final say on dozens of developments that could affect koalas

Callan Tansill

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