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Queensland Government commences public consultation process in relation to South East Queensland’s Koala Habitat Regulations

The Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science released a report this month (April 2023) entitled Consultation Post Implementation Review: Improving South East Queensland’s Koala Habitat Regulations. The report aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2020 koala regulations in providing effective protection for SEQ’s koala habitat in the long term. The report provides an opportunity for consultation with the community, industry, and government to review the effectiveness of the 2020 koala regulations, and how the regulations may have impacted stakeholders, seeking feedback on options for regulatory improvement.

The report has identified several elements of the framework that have not been working as intended by the Government. These include the extent of habitat clearing under exemptions, lack of data on habitat clearing, and unnecessary time delays and costs for stakeholders in preparing development applications.

One of the main issues identified in the report is the ability to stack some exempted development provisions, which is resulting in larger than envisaged clearing events where habitat loss is not counterbalanced through mitigation or offset. This has been deemed by Government to have reduced the overall effectiveness of the protections afforded by the prohibition and development assessment requirements intended. The report also identifies two problem areas within the 2020 koala regulations, specifically that the complex, lengthy, and confusing wording of the legislation is leading to the unintended clearing of koala habitat areas and ineffective monitoring, leading to data constraints, and unnecessary complexity, costs, and limited certainty for users.

To address these issues, the report compares three options and assesses the costs and benefits associated with these options. The options considered include retaining the 2020 koala regulations without any changes, clarifying regulatory requirements, or undertaking an extensive regulatory review and amendment. The latter (third option) is recommended by the Department of Environment and Science as it involves extensive amendments to the assessable development and prohibited development provisions as well as establishing clear thresholds for maximum clearing allowable as exempted development. The government is considering a regulatory amendment to establish a threshold for clearing in smaller-scale rural and residential developments, including single-dwelling houses. This will require a self-assessable reasonability test to confirm that the clearing is necessary and within the regulated threshold. However, we understand that exempted development provision (n), which includes essential management activities such as firebreaks and fire management, will not be included in this threshold given the risk to life and property. Tiered thresholds will allow for once-off clearing for new rural and residential development; with the report citing up to 500 square meters on urban-zoned lots and 800 square meters on rural-zoned lots. The challenge is to establish clear thresholds that are appropriate in scale and account for the variability in allotment sizes.

Consultation on the Consultation PIR document is a critical component in the PIR process to determine whether the 2020 koala regulations have met their objectives and performance outcomes. Feedback will be used to inform final recommendations to the Queensland Government on the future of the 2020 koala regulations. Submissions can be made via email to until 5.00 pm on 5 June 2023.

The PIR Consultation document can be accessed at

SEQ core koala habitat found for property approval

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