Melinda Pavey's arguments regarding koala numbers are framed around the idea that: dogs, suburban development and wild fires are the main cause of their decline.
According to Melinda, our forest lands are productive, there's enough koala habitat, and it's all working well.
However, if the debate is framed around the idea that koala numbers are so low on the North Coast, that in twenty years time they will be extinct, and that the key threat to those declining numbers is native forest logging, and that this is something that can be actioned … then the correct assumption would be, we need to do something different than using logging as a forestry tool to manage biodiversity.
This is what the Great Koala National Park is.
I am not an expert on the job numbers in this debate and the Labor Party is yet to release a fully costed Koala Park policy.
Until then, nobody knows precisely what is being referred to.
At the same time the Nationals don't seem to be experts on forestry job numbers either.
When Luke Foley announced the Great Koala National Park in 2015 there was shrill lamenting about the coming loss of 3000 jobs by Andrew Fraser.
Melinda Pavey speaking in parliament, on the topic of forestry in her electorate, referred to thousands of job losses. Now its 750 hard working people between the Hunter and Tweed River in timber mills. Does this mean up to 2250 jobs have been lost in the timber industry, in the last three years, under the Nationals watch? Or was this just a practice of throwing red meat to the base?
Koalas are VERY cute. Koala parks in Australia are FULL of Japanese, Chinese, and Australian tourists. Our local economy has been restructured to a service economy. What role then would increased tourism play in the face of - climate change, in growing incomes, in preserving the environment, in making our communities more vibrant, and enhancing opportunities? Are our choices here broad, or constrained by a past history where our economy was once based on resource commodities like forestry, but which are now in decline.
Losing a job through industry transition and restructuring is incredibly painful. I know, I have experienced the industry decline of journalism. Just ask the NPWS about calamitous job losses. The trick for everyone is to develop the appropriate skill set to make yourself employable in a changing space.
The public can be part of the decision making around saving the iconic koala, but they must realise the GKNP will only eventuate if the NSW Labor Party is elected to government in 2019. A collective future good is the aim, through a transition and restructuring process.
Cr Susan Jenvey
Country Labor, Nambucca Shire Council