BY ISABEL EVERETT
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Catherine Cusack has been sacked from her position by the NSW Premier for crossing the floor over koala protection laws.
Ms Cusack moved a motion against the government bill on Thursday night, which saw it go down 18-19, arguing it still puts koala habitat at risk.
Port Stephens MP, Kate Washington has backed the move.
In response, Premier Gladys Berejiklian removed Ms Cusack from her position.
“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,” Gladys Berejikian said.
The Local Land Services (LLS) Bill will now be sent to a Parliamentary Committee, chaired by Greens MP Cate Faehrmann MLC.
“It’s abundantly clear that this bill was to be the National Party’s Trojan horse which would have seen decades of work on the government’s primary mechanism to protect koalas discarded and nullify environmental protections on rural land,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Not a single member of the Liberals spoke to this bill when it passed through the lower house. If not for the courage of Catherine Cusack today, the koala would have been sacrificed for the sake of preserving an increasingly fractured Coalition.
“Sending this bill off to an inquiry is the best outcome and what better committee to examine this bill than the one that just wrapped up its landmark inquiry into koala populations,” said Ms Faehrmann.
The Premier and the Deputy Premier said the NSW Government would revert to operations under the former planning policies by the end of the month and in the new year would develop a policy to protect koalas and the interests of farmers.
In a statement Gladys Berejiklian and Nationals Leader, John Barilaro said, “Our farmers deserve certainty and they do not deserve to be held to ransom by a Greens-controlled inquiry.”