Teal challengers facing off against moderate Coalition MPs in the New South Wales election have blasted the government for refusing to back a proposed 300,000 hectare koala national park, accusing it of failing to protect the endangered species.
As the Climate 200-backed candidates for Manly and Vaucluse – Joeline Hackman and Karen Freyer – visited south coast native forests during a trip organised by the Nature Conservation Council on Thursday, they sought to pressure the Coalition over its land-clearing record.
Saying the Liberals had been “dictated to” by its Nationals partner, Hackman, who is challenging the state’s environment minister, James Griffin, in the March election, said the government had “completely undermined” koala habitat.
Jacqui Scruby, an independent candidate in the seat of Pittwater, where minister Rob Stokes is retiring, said both parties should “commit to stopping the destruction of their habitat throughout NSW”.
“There is this difference between what the Liberals are saying and what actually is happening,” she said.
“They are ultimately held back by the [Nationals] on the environment and climate change and particularly koalas.”
Freyer said the koala population should be “above politics”.
“A koala park is a start. But as we saw with the horrific Black Summer mega fires, if we truly want to protect animals and biodiversity we must put in place policies to stop fossil fuel emissions and sooner rather than later,” she said.