Campbelltown Council continues to push for koala protection funding

Campbelltown Council continues to push for koala protection funding

One Campbelltown councillor has accused the state government of ignoring the needs of Macarthur's disease-free koalas.

Cr Karen Hunt said she was appalled the council's request for urgent financial assistance to care for injured koalas was not taken seriously.

Council general manager Lindy Deitz wrote to then Department of Environment and Energy minister Melissa Price in November and said "appropriately targeted financial assistance to local veterinary clinics that care for injured wildlife should be a matter of priority for both the state and federal governments".

Cr Hunt said she was very disappointed with the response (available in the council papers, page 28) from Ms Price's representative, which was received almost five months after the initial correspondence.

"It is appalling to go on and on about the importance of koalas and then do nothing," she said at Tuesday's council meeting.

"The knock-out punch is in [letter's] the last paragraph.

"They've put [the responsibility] back on council and ignored us."

The letter details an imminent national koala recovery plan (expected to be available for public consultation in mid-2019) but fails to commit to any financial assistance.

Instead, the letter directs council staff to apply for grant opportunities with the National Landcare Program.

Cr Hunt said she was unsatisfied with the response - and the lack of responses from several other ministers who were also contacted.

She asked the council to write to the new relevant state ministers (post-state election cabinet shuffle) and upcoming federal ministers (post-federal election cabinet shuffle) again requesting urgent financial assistance.

"I want council to continue to lobby for emergency vet care," she said.

"We need to protect these icons of our region."

Cr Hunt said it was especially important our koalas were protected considering they remained the only chlamydia-free colony in Australia.

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren shared Cr Hunt's concerns.

"Myself and other members of the Campbelltown community have repeatedly urged the state government to put plans in place to ensure that Campbelltown's precious disease-free koala can not only survive, but also thrive," he said.

"However, those pleas have continually fallen on deaf ears."

Ms Deitz's letter highlighted vehicle strikes as one of the main causes of koala fatalities in the region.

"Given the occurrence of a koala/vehicle strike usually results in the death or serious injury of the koala, the subsequent level of veterinary care required to treat the serious injuries of surviving koalas can be very expensive, and sometimes prohibitive depending on the nature of the injuries," she wrote.

"It is important to recognise that although veterinarians are obliged to review and provide appropriate care for injured wildlife presented to them (such as a koala), this care comes at a substantial and unbudgeted financial personal burden, or to their clinics.

"The financial consideration of whether or not an iconic Australian animal such as the koala should be saved should be significantly reduced or removed entirely from the decision train."