Here’s my response to today’s decision by four of the seven Bellingen Shire councillors to continue the myth of the Koala Park on the Mid North Coast.
Bellingen Shire Councillor Jennie Fenton’s Notice of Motion at the monthly council meeting is classic Greens’ political spin.
The motion gives legitimacy to an initiative that is built on mistruths and hypotheticals. It is bureaucratic language disguised as fact.
When Ms Fenton talks about a failed timber industry that doesn’t bring “security in Bellingen Shire”, one wonders what the mill workers and their families at Thora do, and have done, for generations.
When Ms Fenton hypothesises on the “suitable alternate employment” for the 4,360 people in Northern NSW – and let’s face it, the Koala Park does affect the entire Mid North Coast region despite her grandstanding in Bellingen – I’m hoping she’s discussed this career change with them. Let alone the ancillary employment and businesses that rely on the timber industry for their survival.
I am also wondering why the Greens want to demonise timber as a product.
The range of products the industry supplies is staggering and simply there is no alternative – especially none that can claim to be renewable and sustainable, which are two long-spruiked goals the Greens claim to best represent.
So, let’s be clear, what products do the Greens want to take away from our communities?
Let them choose from sawlogs, power poles, pallets, firewood, residue products, high-quality flooring and decking timbers as well as the infinite ways artisan carpenters use this versatile resource.
The Greens couch their anti-logging crusade as the ‘Koala Park’. It’s for PR purposes. It’s a well-known secret that the koala tag sells. But what they are really doing is locking up forests that communities need for sustainable wood, they are locking up forests we maintain and worse still – there is no evidence this will save any more koalas.
We know that the biggest threats to koalas are the spread of urbanisation, habitat fragmentation, vehicle strike, dog attack, fire, disease, drought and heatwaves.
We know that koalas are detected in equal numbers after an area has been harvested, when compared with areas where no timber gathering has occurred.
It is factually incorrect that the koala habitat is under threat by the one-hundred-year old timber industry.
The Koala Park doesn’t address what happens if we stop logging on the Mid North Coast.
It doesn’t address what will happen to the local consumer market. It doesn’t acknowledge it will force people to magically use other – often incomparable products – and it completely dismisses the international and often illegally-logged timber trade.
The proponents haven’t done a study looking at the consequences to the global world when consumers look elsewhere – when they look to places that have no environmental protections, no labour laws and no systems to re-establish forests post-harvesting operations.
The staggering hypocrisy of the Greens to claim moral superiority in the timber debate – to claim they, and they only, represent the Koala – is something we have let go on for too long.
It’s time we acknowledge that those working on the ground are facilitating a sustainable lifestyle. They are aware and care about getting the balance right – about caring for the environment and supplying us with renewable household products.
So, here’s a real-life tip for the Greens – the bush doesn’t look after itself. The biodiversity which Ms Fenton speaks of, is only good insofar as there aren’t pests and weeds. And yes – we have plenty. Ask our NSW FC Indigenous rangers about the work they do to control both. Locking bush away doesn’t mean we are protecting it. Nor will it protect the koalas savaged by wild dogs or lost in lantana.
Another tip for the Greens – when in Government, you have to cost initiatives.
There is no cost provided for the Koala Park. Let me repeat that. The Greens have not told the taxpayers what this will cost now, or into the future. Typical.
Frankly, sustainable logging provides wood products we use – every day. And it also supplies a revenue income to manage the forests.
So, don’t be fooled, there are those trying to politicise the koala and the timber industry by distorting facts and scare-mongering. It’s about time the Greens stopped playing games, stopped with the media stunts, and started to constructively engage with all stakeholders.