THE tiny possum that is Victoria’s endangered faunal emblem has enticed Bob Brown to re-enter the political fray ahead of the state election.
The former national Greens leader is heading to Melbourne armed with a Galaxy poll showing most Victorians support a national park in the Yarra Ranges east of Melbourne, which Dr Brown says would help protect the Leadbeater’s possum.
The survey of 503 people found a national park was supported by 64 per cent of respondents, and was particularly popular among young voters and women.
Environment and forestry groups have clashed recently over the possum’s habitat, and the Napthine Government recently released a plan to try to protect the marsupial’s slender population.
But Dr Brown said that while native forest logging was supported, the plan was worthless. He told the Herald Sun he was compelled to campaign on the issue ahead of the November election after Prahran Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown sent out a flyer saying the Government would save the animal — complete with an image of “an angelic-faced possum”.
“For any candidate or MP to say that, when they are driving it to extinction, is outrageous,” he said. “It’s a calculated deception.”
Mr Newton-Brown defended his party’s credentials on the marsupial, saying it was acting to ensure the Leadbeater’s possum “doesn’t become extinct like the Tasmanian tiger”.
Dr Brown has recently toured the Toolangi State Forest with the Greens’ Melbourne candidate, Ellen Sandell.
Ms Sandell said if she was to win the seat of Melbourne and have the balance of power, “I’ll make it a condition of my support that the Government creates the Great Forest National Park”.
The Government released a plan to protect the Leadbeater’s possum earlier this year, cutting logging by VicForests by 5 per cent.
The plan bans logging within 200 metres of known possum colonies, provides for breeding boxes, and relocates some possums.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith said: “The Victorian Coalition Government has taken more action to protect our state’s faunal emblem than Labor did in 11 years”.
“The Napthine Government is investing $11 million to implement all of the 13 recommendations made by the Leadbeater’s possum Advisory Group,” he said.
Labor is yet to release its forestry policy ahead of the election.