This Monday, it was revealed that deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce had asked the environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, to reconsider the protected status of the Leadbeater’s possum.
Risking Victoria’s faunal emblem to extinction is a move Joyce has made in an attempt to save the Heyfield timber mill.
Joyce went on to say in parliament that “it is very important that we don’t put possums before people” and called on Labor MP Brendan O’Connor to begin “standing up for the forestry workers”.
The reaction from environmentalist groups and concerned members of the public has been overwhelmingly negative.
“The federal minister for the environment should tackle Joyce on this,” said ex-Greens leader Bob Brown. “He should belt Joyce out of the arena. Otherwise he becomes part of the political accelerant which Joyce wants to apply to Australia’s long list of endangered species.”
National forest campaigner for the Wilderness Society told the Herald Sun, that “Barnaby Joyce wants to kill cute animals again but, instead of Johnny Depp’s dogs Pistol and Boo, which may have threatened biosecurity, he wants to exterminate a species… the Leadbeater’s possum.”
By weakening protections for the species, campaigners have raised concerns that a Great Forest National Park is one step further from becoming a reality.