Koala Park Advocates Devastated By Minister Pulling Out Of Meeting

Knitting Nannas protesting outside the meeting was given as the reason for the Minister to withdraw from the meeting. Photo: Chris Degan.

ENVIRONMENT advocates from the Coffs Coast and beyond were left disappointed and angry last week when Environment Minister Penny Sharpe cancelled a meeting with them at the last minute.

Key stakeholders of and voluntary advocates for the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) had been invited to an afternoon meeting, on Friday November 3, with the Minister, while she was visiting Coffs Harbour.

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About 20 people accepted the invitation and attended the Coffs Harbour Community Village, ready to begin the meeting at the scheduled time of 4:30pm.

Upon arrival they were told that Ms Sharpe would not be attending because a group of people, including Knitting Nannas with protest signs, and media, was waiting at the entrance to the Community Village.

Some attendees had driven from as far as an hour and a half (each way) to engage with the Minister because of their concern for native animals and their habitats.

They were bitterly disappointed and mystified at Ms Sharpe’s non-attendance at a meeting that they understood was organised on her behalf.

Ms Sharpe’s office declined to comment on the meeting cancellation, but attendees were contacted on Saturday by the Minister’s office with the offer of a Zoom meeting on Tuesday evening.

While a number stated that this was not ideal, most accepted.

A participant told News Of The Area, “The meeting was very respectful and everyone at the meeting was looking forward to finding solutions.”

The participant said the Minister was responsive to an invitation to visit some of the logging sites, and, while there was no promise of immediate action and there were concerns over logging continuing, the feeling in the meeting was generally positive.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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