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Report puts koalas, rally in the spotlight

WHAT do we want on the Coffs Coast - the World Rally Championships or a Great National Koala Park?

That's the question at the centre of a debate sparked by the release of Coffs Harbour City Council's draft 2020 tourism plan.

The report mentions the development of the 315,000ha koala park under a proposal by the National Parks and Wildlife Association. 

It's drawn criticism from Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser who claims the koala park would put a signature event on the Coffs Coast in jeopardy.

"The adoption of this inane plan would see the loss of the World Rally Championships in Coffs Harbour which brings in an excess of $13 million to our local economy," he said.

"I'm at a loss to understand how the council can put out a draft tourism plan without taking into consideration the phenomenal tourist benefits afforded to our community by State Forests."

A Koala Park or a round of the WRC. What would you rather see on the Coffs Coast?

This poll ended on 03 April 2016.

Current Results

Great Koala National Park

68%

World Rally Championship

31%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The development of the Great National Koala Park was proposed last year, with political parties divided on its development.

Labor says it would protect 20% of the state's koala population, while the State Government claims it would remove 100,000 cubic metres of sawlogs from the timber industry, putting jobs at risk.

WRC rally stage14 Wedding bells. Jari-Matti Latvala VW 13  SEPT 2015 Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
WRC rally stage14 Wedding bells. Jari-Matti Latvala VW 13 SEPT 2015 Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

Mr Fraser says turning the area into a national park also ignores recreational activities used in the state forests, adding that koalas thrived better in state forests due to supply of younger trees as a food source.

He described the proposal as a "warm and fuzzy policy designed to attract Green votes" and called on the council to remove it from the plan.

After reading the 66-page draft plan, Greens candidate for Cowper Carol Vernon questioned why Mr Fraser had taken objection.

"All this reaction to an extremely brief reference to be considered in a future plan. Why this vociferous reaction? What is behind Mr Fraser's alarm?" she said.

"I suspect that mining within a forest would be okay with Mr Fraser but he finds the support of our sustainable tourist industry by the establishment of a Great Koala Park as undesirable."

A council spokeswoman said "nothing in the draft plan proposes that council supports, adopts or condemns the National Parks Association suggestion".

Submissions to the draft document closed on Wednesday, March 30. 



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