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Adjournment: Wildlife protection

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
5 August 2021

My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Planning, and my ask is that he meet with members of our community to discuss how to strengthen wildlife protections in the planning system. As Victoria’s population continues to grow and new developments and suburbs are created we have a responsibility to ensure our planning is as forward-thinking and considerate as possible and that we plan our cities and towns in a way that responds to the climate crisis and looks after the precious trees, grasslands and wildlife that make Victoria a great place to call home. But right now planning in Victoria is too focused on more development and more profit at the expense of our native vegetation and our wildlife.

I frequently hear from constituents and community members who are devastated at the potential destruction of habitat posed by new development. I hear stories of communities desperately trying to save old gums from being razed which have been home to birds and marsupials for decades or neighbourhoods rallying together trying to protect precious green and open space from being used for new developments. We hear about the steady loss of native grassland and green space on the city’s fringes as outer suburbs continue to expand or where existing wildlife corridors are completely ignored and wildlife in the area ends up being fenced in or displaced by new development. The Kinley kangaroos in Lilydale are a recent high-profile example, where a mob was locked into a small patch of land as housing development encroached upon their habitat. While the kangaroos are being relocated, they never should have been trapped in the first place.

When we allow unmitigated development to occur, where developers purchase land for housing development with no thought for the wildlife that call the area home, we are effectively signing a death sentence for the local wildlife. Food sources decline, movement corridors are fenced off and built across and animals are trapped in new urban environments. Many die slow and painful deaths, caught on fences or hit by traffic. While I know the government will reiterate that the planning system allows for wildlife management plans and that there are protections for our green wedges, that is not good enough. These are only bandaid solutions that will do nothing to stop the destruction of our wildlife as a result of urban development.

We need to completely rethink how we plan for our city. We need to stop letting profit and growth override protecting our nature and our wildlife. This government needs to stop viewing our native animals as pests or roadblocks to be removed to pave the way for more urban development and instead view them as a treasured part of our vital ecosystem and our state. We need reform of the planning system to make wildlife protection a key part of all planning decisions, and this government needs to listen to the activists and community members who are fighting for this change and work with them on reforming planning in Victoria. I ask the minister to arrange a meeting with these activists to begin the conversation about this important planning reform.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
5 August 2021
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