A dispute over protection measures for Australia’s endangered koalas yesterday threatened to topple the government of the country’s biggest state.
Angered by a new koala conservation law, the rural-based National Party withdrew its support for New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s governing Liberal Party, saying that the law comes at the expense of farmers.
The move left Berejiklian with a minority government, unable to pass legislation.
The dispute comes months after bushfires destroyed vast swathes of koala habitat, prompting fears for the species’ survival.
In a coalition with the Nationals, Berejiklian’s Liberals have governed the state that runs from populous coastal areas that include Sydney to a rural outback.
In a statement, the Nationals decried the koala bill as “a blunt instrument to make city-centric law makers feel good about themselves,” claiming it prevents farmers from clearing their own land.
Environmental groups criticized the stance, saying koalas might be on track for extinction in the state by 2050.
“Wanting to retain the right to kill koalas is an extraordinary hill for the Nationals to want to die on, but here we are,” Nature Conservation Council chief executive Chris Gambian said.
Corey Bradshaw, a professor of global ecology at Flinders University, said the legislation was “a mere band-aid in the fight to stem further deforestation.”
New South Wales has some of the weakest anti-land clearing laws in Australia, he said, adding that poor enforcement and low penalties exacerbate the problem.
“With increasing mega bushfires, the legacy and persistence of broad-scale deforestation, and weak laws, koalas in New South Wales are effectively doomed,” he said. “Koalas live in and eat trees — you don’t need a university degree to predict what will happen.”
Berejiklian gave National members of the state Cabinet until this morning to decide whether they wished to stay in her Cabinet or quit the coalition.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
SECRET AGREEMENT: China is paying for construction at Ream Naval Base, where dredging would be needed if larger military ships were to dock there, AMTI said Dredgers have been spotted off Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where China is funding construction work and deeper port facilities would be necessary for the docking of larger military ships, a US think tank said on Friday. The US, which has sought to push back against Beijing’s extensive territorial claims and military expansion in the South China Sea, reiterated its “serious concerns” about China’s construction and military presence at Ream. “These developments threaten US and partner interests, regional security and Cambodia’s sovereignty,” a US Department of State spokesperson said. The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said the
France is to relax some COVID-19 restrictions from early next month in a bet that an outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 would recede thanks to faster inoculations and plans to shut the unvaccinated out of most social activities. The French government is to lift the obligation to work from home at least three days a week from Feb. 2, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. It would also remove a requirement to wear a mask outdoors, and scrap attendance limits for sports arenas and cultural venues, Castex said. Infections with the Delta variant are “clearly receding,” while the
RED LINE: The US and its allies would not accept if ‘any’ Russian troops cross into Ukraine, the state secretary said, clarifying Biden’s remarks about a ‘minor incursion’ The US and its allies on Thursday warned Moscow of grave consequences if “any” of the tens of thousands of troops massed on the border were to cross into Ukraine. Following talks in Berlin with Germany, France and the UK, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia “cannot match” Western powers’ resoluteness. Allowing Russia to breach Ukraine’s territorial integrity would “drag us all back to a much more dangerous and unstable time, when this continent, and this city, were divided in two ... with the threat of all-out war hanging over everyone’s heads,” he told reporters. In a show of that
Human rights advocates and some academics in China have had their WeChat messaging app accounts restricted in the past few weeks, multiple people affected have said, as Beijing cracks down on dissent before the Beijing Winter Olympics. China hopes to make next week’s Games a soft power triumph, although the lead-up has seen some Western powers launch a diplomatic boycott over Beijing’s rights record and cybersecurity firms warn athletes of digital surveillance risks. For China’s ever-dwindling community of rights advocates, the imminent arrival of the world’s best athletes has triggered a familiar clampdown. Eight people told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that their WeChat