31st May 2023.
I used my Private Members Statement to address the negative impact that developments such as that at Gilead is having on the vulnerable koala habitat and the last disease free colony of koalas in NSW.
"Thank you speaker. I rise to speak of the destruction of large areas of land and risk to the only chlamydia free koala habitat in NSW. The immediate risk is just north of my electorate in Gilead. Just north I might add after a redistribution after I decisively won the Appin booth in the 2019 State Election.
Gilead is a beautiful area, idyllic and has been home to koalas that populate the Dharawal lands in my electorate. Unfortunately these koalas have chosen some trees that are in the way of some profits, at least that is how the developers view them.
Lendlease Group, listed on the ASX as LLC has developed land in my electorate and the broader Macarthur region for decades. Some of these developments look nice, many of them deliver nice things for the new residents moving in, however the aggressive stance of Lendlease is intent on pushing a home into every inch of my electorate is destroying any hope of preserving these koalas.
This aggressive nature and pushing the boundaries is natural for the company that has reported no tax payments for years with massive claims. It isn’t right that a multinational company like Lendlease that makes profits off our area, destroys koala habitats and doesn’t even give its fair share. The external tax advisor hired by Lendlease Tony Watson, then sacked in 2022 which was reported in the Australian Financial Review for raising the issue of tax avoidance speaks volumes! I agree with Senator Rex Patrick who called on the Federal Government to look at its contracting, a sum of over half a billion given to Lendlease, on the basis of the company intent of tax avoidance. For the Government members listening, I would expect us to do the same, not only for matters of tax avoidance but also avoidance of our moral and environmental duties.
It may be too late for large areas near Wilton but it isn’t too late for the areas to the north of Wollondilly, in Appin and Gilead. This brings me back again to Lendlease. The planning development has been criticized for the proposal to relocate koalas. Relocate! I’m sorry you can’t do that to a species that requires large areas to travel through. The consistent independent advice for the requirement of a 450 meter corridor for koalas should be respected. But that doesn’t mean doing what has been done in the areas such as the south of Wilton where developers have declared the corridors are only on the lands owned by private individuals, some who have lived in Wollondilly for generations. Amazing that koalas just mystically don’t want to live on developer owned land!
It is the right of Lendlease to ask for the area to be concreted for their profits, but it is also our right to fight back against this and say enough is enough. The Stage 2 of the Gilead Development should be ceased and there needs to be reviews of Stage 1.
It is not just myself and the residents of Wollondilly who have recognised this as a major issue. I am adding my voice to the NSW Government Environment and Heritage Group who have stated the Gilead proposal is inconsistent from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. The area is recognised as vital for the survival of the koala colony. Further, I recognise and thank Ethical Superannuation for their decision to divest any funds in the Lendlease Group and encourage anyone else who is able to do the same and switch the funds to another more environmentally friendly Australian company. I also thank Ethical Superannuation for sending out advice to their members and the suggestion to contact the Environment Minister about this important issue.
I recognise koalas are coming up a lot in this term of Parliament and the risk of the koalas in the north due to logging risks of swathes of land is heartbreaking. This is years after I submitted a petition to this place that was debated little over the time I have spoken today.
Members on both sides need to recognise risks of habitats not only come from the obviously destructive logging or even mining and industrial plans. What is affecting the koala colonies in my area is homes, built on lands swallowed up by a developer who appears intent on taking as much as they can from us. Lendlease, enough is enough."