NSW Premier Premier Gladys Berejiklian, has sacked Member for the Legislative Council for the Hunter Catherine Cusack, after she crossed the floor last week over the contentious koala policy.
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Ms Cusack has been the region’s most recent representative on the Legislative Council.
Prior to voting Ms Cusack stated that the bill had “zero to do with protecting koalas”.
Ms Cusack crossed the floor and voted with Labor, the Greens, the Animal Justice Party and Independent Justin Field in favour of the inquiry.
In crossing the floor, the bill was defeated 18 to 19.
This is the second time that this bill has caused controversy with Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro, having previously threatened to move his MPs to the crossbench over the policy.
Cusack said in her speech to parliament, “It’s to try to patch up a political disagreement, and I would dearly love to see that solved, but it is just too costly if it comes at the expense of koalas.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement, “Following her decision today to move a non-government amendment to a government bill, I have made the decision to immediately remove Ms Catherine Cusack as a Parliamentary Secretary,”
This is the second time that Ms Cusack has lost her role as Parliamentary Secretary, having stood down from her post as in 2017 criticising members of the cabinet to Premier Berejklian.
She was reinstated in December 2019.
The NSW Government has since dumped the legislation, which in September had threatened to split the Coalition.
At the recent opening of the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary Catherine Cusack spoke candidly about the need to protect koala habitat, she at the time was hopeful that the Federal Environment Minister Susan Ley would decide in favour of preserving the Brandy Hill koala habitat.
Unfortunately the decision handed down by Susan Ley was one which allows for a quarry to be developed in a core koala habitat and a breeding ground for the species.
It is now a case of ‘watch this space’ for environmentalists trying to protect koala habitat and preserve the species which suffers from fractured corridors of habitat, and are prone to vehicle strikes and dog attacks.
By Marian SAMPSON