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MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - Environment

February 18, 2021

I very much thank the member for Griffith for raising this matter of critical importance. Sadly, all we've just heard from the minister are weasel words that mean nothing to the environment in my electorate. I have written to her and I've written to her predecessors to get them to come and do something for the critically endangered species in my electorate, particularly our koalas and our platypuses—

Ms Ley interjecting

Dr Freelander: Well, you haven't replied, you've refused to come and you've done nothing.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Llew O'Brien): The member for Macarthur will address his comments through the chair.

Dr Freelander: Sorry, Chair. As I speak, the koalas in my electorate are being killed, their environment is being trashed and this government and the New South Wales state government are doing absolutely nothing about it. I've written to them about Appin Road, which runs through our koala habitat, to get them to put protective fencing along the road. They've done nothing. I've written to them to try and protect our waterways. They've done nothing. They're allowing rampant development to occur along the Nepean River and the Georges River. They're allowing developers to cut down trees that, critically, the koalas use to move between the two major rivers—the Georges River and the Nepean River—to survive. We have the only chlamydia-free urban population of koalas in the country, and they are dying as we speak.

This is me and my grandson with a koala that was rescued, very sick, having been hit by a car on Appin Road. I'm frightened that my grandson may be the last of my grandchildren to see a koala in the wild in my electorate. We have platypuses, or platypi, in our rivers, yet the government is doing nothing to protect our river system from the massive development that's occurring in Macarthur. I want to pay tribute to Professor Robert Close, from Western Sydney University, who has for years been tracking koalas, getting their numbers and researching their breeding habits. We have all the statistics. It's a huge population of koalas that is gradually being diminished by habitat reduction and rampant development. We have schools in my electorate, particularly St Helens Park Public School, where the children can be distracted looking through the windows at koalas in the trees around the school. I'm frightened that this will finish very soon.

The Samuel report made multiple recommendations, which this government talks about but on which it does absolutely nothing. I've written to the New South Wales environment minister on a number of occasion. To his credit, he is the only one who has come out and seen our environment and seen koalas in the wild in the Appin area, around the Gilead development about to be developed by Lendlease. He has seen what a tragedy it would be to lose this environment, but it's already happening. I drove by the other day to see massive trees, koala habitat, being chopped down. I saw their stumps. No more trees were being planted. This is being done for a development that's going to occur.

It is a perfect environment for a national park to connect the two rivers. In fact, the name Twin Rivers National Park was suggested about 20 years ago by the University of Western Sydney. That would connect the Dharawal National Park in my electorate to the national park around the Heathcote-Audley region and the coast, which would allow proper migration of the koalas. I really think it's an absolute tragedy that this government is doing nothing. As we speak, our environment is being destroyed: koala habitat and the habitats of many other animals, including wombats, kangaroos, snakes, lizards—lace monitors—and multiple bird species. This will be the last generation that will see them if the state and federal Liberal governments have their way.

Members of the government have come out, I see today, to drive for nuclear energy. Do they really want that?

OUR VOICE IN MACARTHUR.