TAMWORTH MP Kevin Anderson has denied claims from local koala activists the state government is “ignoring” the region when it comes to habitat funding.
The claims from local activist Martine Moran came after the state government announced a new $20 million private land purchase program on Wednesday.
The program is aimed at securing more habitat for the vulnerable species in the Port Macquarie, Southern Highlands and Port Stephens regions.
Mr Anderson said that despite the funds being aimed at other areas, Gunnedah was still seeing its share of support.
“Just recently we allocated some funding for more Blinky Drinkers and for a manager to maintain them,” Mr Anderson said.
“As well as that, there is, of course, $7 million lined up for a new state-of-the-art koala park in Gunnedah.
“While that is still in the planning stage, I am sure Gunnedah Shire Council will consult with the community about what facilities that new park will need.
“We have been working on delivering more habitat and support for koalas over the past seven years and that is what I will continue to do.”
Mr Anderson said the latest funding was designed to help “those regions catch up” with habitat for koalas.
“Gunnedah has really been the benchmark in terms of securing and maintaining habitat for koalas,” he said.
“We have seen that over the last seven years and I really think these other regions are just starting to realise how important koalas are.”
Ms Moran said the funding for Blinky Drinkers and new habitat was welcome but more measures were needed.
“What I think really needs to happen is for the state government to set aside more established habitat in the region for animals,” she said.
“It’s not just our region, habitat is being cleared all over the country and is making survival for these animals very difficult.
“These animals are at risk because they are constantly on the move due to losing their habitat.”