Greens MP and Tourism spokesperson, Dawn Walker has called on the State Government to commission a study into the job-creation potential of a Great Koala National Park in the Coffs Harbour and Bellingen regions.
Speaking at the site of a proposed Great Koala National Park Visitors Centre adjacent to the Pacific Highway near Repton, Dawn Walker MP said that the NSW Government was denying an economic boom for the Coffs Harbour and Bellingen region by refusing to support the Great Koala National Park proposal.
“The Great Koala National Park could be a major employment generator for the Mid North Coast creating hundreds of new jobs for locals in the tourism, hospitality, accommodation and retail sectors.
“Tourists love koalas and we believe that there is considerable, untapped potential for the development of low-impact ecotourism opportunities, including for international visitors, through koala conservation, rehabilitation and recovery.
“A recent study by economists estimated the similar Great Forest National Park proposal in Victoria could generate up to 750 full-time jobs, attract an extra 400,000 visitors annually and add more than $70 million to economy annually.
“Yet the Liberal-National State Government, including local members Melinda Pavey and Andrew Fraser seem more content to allow our native forests and precious koalas to be logged towards extinction, rather than explore the economic opportunities that come from conserving them. It’s time they showed a bit of vision for their communities.
“For instance, a Great Koala National Park Visitors Centre adjacent to the Pacific Highway would serve as a place of arrival for tourists, as an education centre, bushwalking hub and a wildlife hospital all in the one location. It’s a great vision and like the successful Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, the NSW Government should be embracing it and fund it using their $300 million Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund.
“The Greens are calling on the State Government to end their blind fixation with native forest logging and commission an economic study into the Great Koala National Park so we can see the job-creation potential for the whole Mid North Coast region” said Dawn Walker MP.