A North Coast MP has threatened to head to the crossbench if the New South Wales Government forces farmers to search for koalas on their properties.

Key points:

  • A NSW Nationals MP says he will go to the crossbench and not support State Government policy
  • New planning regulations include increasing the number of protected tree species that trigger koala checks
  • The MP is concerned more green tape will impact farmers and timber industry

The new environmental planning regulations, the Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Planning Policy, are an attempt to protect koala populations.

But the Nationals’ Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, said the new rules, which include increasing the number of tree species protected from 10 to 123, is a step too far and would severely limit the way property owners manage their land.

“It is protecting trees and not necessarily the trees that koalas live off,” Mr Gulaptis said.

Crossing the floor

Mr Gulaptis said he will risk his position within Government ranks in order to support the regional communities he represents.

“It’s not an idle threat,” he said.

“I don’t have faith in every policy the Government introduces and I’m prepared to go to the crossbenches. They can’t expect my vote on every piece of legislation.”

The Nationals MP said there was a clear difference in the way the environment was handled in cities and country areas.

“In the city they can go out and go ahead and clear all they like for the Badgery’s Creek airport, a development of state significance, so it is one set of rules for them,” he said.

“But in the country — if a farmer or a private landowner wants to take a few logs off to have a livelihood, or so the local timber mill can be supported and we can have workers in our area and we can have our economy boosted — when they are threatened then I have to stand up for them.

“Quite frankly, it was because of the mismanagement of our natural state.”

Mr Gulaptis said there was a lack of resources to look after New South Wales’ national parks and forests.

“We are really going to have a serious impact on our regional industries in our regional communities — like timber, farming, and horticulture — and it is certainly not going to save or preserve the koalas,” he said.

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