This was the question that the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed had for their State MP, Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence.
Grafton Nannas and several supporters (and one very active Jack Russell pup) met outside Mr Gulaptis' electorate office in Prince Street, Grafton, on Thursday 17th September. This gathering, the first for many months, occurred because the Nannas were appalled at the shenanagins of the NSW Nationals over the relatively new Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).
This knit-in was a completely new Nanna experience as we were meeting according to COVID restrictions - limited numbers, social distancing and, for those who were able to wear masks, with face masks. All of this made communicating with each other rather challenging - particularly for those of us who are becoming hard of hearing. And our increased volume meant we were noisier than usual.
We presented the office with a letter to Mr Gulaptis which explained our concerns about his position and that of his party. The text of the letter is below:
State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019
Over the many years that we Nannas have been around, we have witnessed some weird performances from politicians but the NSW Nationals’ “drama” of last week really “takes the cake”. The members of the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed are appalled at what you and your colleagues have done and are continuing to do.
We are amazed to hear that you “love Koalas like every other Australian”. You’ve certainly got a very strange way of showing this recently-revealed affection.
The Nannas are well aware that since 2012, when the Nationals came into government, they have been pressuring their coalition partners to weaken biodiversity protection. This has resulted in significant weakening of both native vegetation legislation and State Forest logging regulations. These changes have had serious impacts on biodiversity - including on koalas.
Koalas have suffered from a range of impacts in recent years including climate induced drought and bushfires as well as dog attack, car strike and disease. But the major cause of their decline is habitat loss. Your party, Mr Gulaptis, has had a big role in recent years in ensuring that habitat loss is accelerating.
So now we have you and your colleagues paying lip-service to the need to protect koalas while you are undermining a recent change to koala policy.
And why are you doing this? It seems that all the hoo-ha is about property developers who are worried they might have difficulty is pursuing their plans for rural subdivisions or residential development on urban outskirts because they will need to put in development applications to councils. This will then trigger the SEPP.
Surprisingly the Nannas do not consider the desires of property developers to make what they would no doubt call “an honest quid” should outweigh the protection of koalas which are on track to extinction in NSW by 2050 unless really effective measures are put in place to protect them and their habitat.
Are property developers more important than preventing the extinction of koalas?