gladys berejiklian koala killer catherine cusack

Unpacking The Curious Case Of Gladys Berejiklian & The Koalas

A new chapter has been written into the ongoing saga of Gladys Berejiklian (aka “Koala Killer”) and Australian koalas. If you’ve missed this drama, which really encapsulates the petty shitness of Australian politics in all it’s embarrassing glory, here’s the swiftest recap. A koala bill has been causing weeks of protracted drama in the NSW government. Essentially, the Liberal Party and National Party have been butting heads over koala protection policies.

The National Party has taken against the current koala policy—which sits under the State Environmental Planning Policy—which sees more areas classed as koala habitats. Under those regulations, koalas are thought to be a bit more protected from land clearing. John Barilaro, the Deputy Premier and Nationals leader, claimed it would “attack the property rights of landholders,” and that the regulations, “do absolutely nothing to support koalas.”

Why is this causing such a shitfight? Because the government’s coalition falls apart if the Nationals and Liberals don’t work together. (The Liberals and Nationals only form a majority when counted together.) Berejiklian gave Barilaro an ultimatum that he and his ministers would either have to give up their portfolios or get in line.

As of yesterday, things have imploded a little more.

The Nationals introduced a land bill that would amend the koala protection policies, in favour of their stance that’d walk back the koala protections. Catherine Cusack, a long-serving Liberal MP crossed the floor to vote the bill down. She called out the parliamentary process, and said it has “zero to do with protecting koalas.” Instead, Cusack called the situation an attempt to “patch up a political disagreement,” continuing, “I would dearly love to see that solved, but it is just too costly if it comes at the expense of koalas.”

Berejiklian, noted koala killer, moved swiftly and sacked Cusack from her role after the vote. “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,” read the statement.

It’s truly a wild style after a year full of sports rorts, corruption and wild professional misconduct, for Berejiklian to just straight up fire someone who stood up to her, but are we really surprised? Is anyone actually thinking about the bigger picture of the climate crisis and the destruction of Australia’s wildlife?

Anyway, now the bill has been scrapped, the government is falling back on it’s old—and already expired—policy. This comes only days after the delivery of a new Climate Transparency report, which ranked Australia in the bottom bracket for every single climate policy area it considered, save one. Embarrassing, and planet threatening.

If your eco-anxiety is ratcheting up we’re going to go ahead and say that staying informed, hopeful and active is key to managing this. It remains to be seen how the incoming U.S. President Joe Biden’s progressive climate policies could sway Australia and yesterday was the last sitting day for NSW parliament for the year. However, we can keep the pressure on our own government and vote for ones who actually intend to take the climate crisis seriously when it comes time to.

Lead image via Archie Carlson.

Monisha is a writer with a background in publishing and digital media. A chronic Pisces, she’s into trying to be a better person and sparkling water.