NSW government dragging its feet on koala park for “sham” carbon credits

by Stephen Long and Ebony Bennett
A koala is seen during the opening of the new Nura Dia immersive experience of flora and fauna at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Thursday, April 6, 2023.
AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts


By waiting for a carbon credit scheme to be established before delivering its Great Koala National Park, the New South Wales Government is putting the species at risk, says Stephen Long.

The Labor Party came to power in New South Wales (NSW) with a policy to create a Great Koala National Park on the state’s mid-north coast.

The policy is meant to safeguard the future of koalas, which are now listed as endangered in Australia’s east. But the Minns government is sitting on its hands while it waits for a carbon credit scheme to be established, according to Walkley Award winning journalist Stephen Long.

“Officially the government’s line is that they’re delaying the gazetting of the forest for consultation with stakeholders,” Long said on the latest episode of Follow the Money.

“But they have also now confirmed to us that they are actively considering a carbon credits method as part of the development of the park.”

Speaking at a budget estimates hearing, Minns said:

“You have to have the system up and running before you can quarantine a park or an area to allow for that area or that zone to be eligible for the carbon transfer. If you do it in reverse, then you can’t retroactively go to that national park or that forest and say, ‘This will now apply to carbon offsets in the future.’”

For carbon credits to have integrity, they have to be “additional” – that is, they need to result in emissions reductions that would not have occurred anyway. The proposed NSW scheme fails this test, according to Long.

“You cannot pretend that this is genuine.

“We found documents going back to 2015, where the NSW Labor Party publicly committed to creating the Great Koala National Park.

“You cannot pretend that putting in place a policy that you’ve had for a decade is actually a genuine additional offset. It’s a scam.”

In the meantime, logging is continuing on the mid-north coast, with devastating effects for the region’s koalas.

In response, over 1,300 people have signed the Australia Institute’s open letter calling on the government to end native forest logging in the state.

The Minns government “can save these forests with the stroke of a pen,” Long said.

“Just do it now. The public will thank you; the world will thank you.”

Follow the Money is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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The NSW Labor Government took office promising to create a vast koala sanctuary on the state’s mid-north coast – the Great Koala National Park. Despite the threat of koala extinction in the state, more than a year later the Great Koala National Park is yet to be established.