Campaigners fear another "tragedy"

Published 6:00am 8 September 2023

Campaigners fear another "tragedy"
Words by Nick Crockford

Campaigners in Clontarf have urged all levels of government to meet them and help prevent a “tragedy waiting to happen”.

Stop Clontarf Overpass Action Group (SCOAG) fears “another koala death or injury is potentially imminent” near the $19 million Elizabeth Ave overpass construction site.

The group wants a meeting with Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth, State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath and Moreton Bay City Councillor Karl Winchester (Div 6).

“We’re calling on all of them to meet SCOAG on site to sort this bureaucratic madness out,” Les Barkla, from SCOAG, said. “We and other groups fought the koala fencing location but were not listened to.

“Now, we have Sue and Phil Johnson, working tirelessly every day and night, struggling to keep koalas safe from illegal off-leash dogs, gate and infrastructure vandals and bureaucracies not wanting to deal with endangered koala protection.”

Campaigners fear another "tragedy"
A map showing the planned fencing at the Elizabeth Ave overpass site.

Vanda Grabowski, President/Secretary of Koala Action Inc, added: “warnings were issued but it has all resulted in absolutely nothing being done to address or resolve the issue”.

Yvette D’Ath, State Member for Redcliffe, said she would “follow up on the issues raised and see what more can be done".

“I want to put a call out to dog owners in the area to respect the fact we have dedicated off leash dog parks and they should not be using Frawley Fields for this purpose. They are putting wildlife at risk,” she said.

“Also, residents who access the area should be respectful of ensure the gates are closed. We all have a responsibility to help keep our wildlife safe.”

Cr Karl Winchester said: “I did speak with them (SCOAG) last week about a latch issue which I understand has been fixed.

“I am happy to talk with them about other concerns and welcome their contact on any other Council matters.”

Campaigners fear another "tragedy"
Construction is now under way on both sides of the Elizabeth Ave.

Federal Member Luke Howarth has backed residents. In parliament last November he spoke of “disgrace and disappointment at the decimation of koala habitat at Ray Frawley Fields”.

Plans are for permanent fencing from the Citipoint Church, along Elizabeth Ave, where trees were removed for the overpass and down Silcock St.

However, SCOAG says it should have been along the western edge of the playing fields, closest to Hays Inlet.

Despite construction being well underway, koalas are being spotted close to the site and trying to cross open playing fields to where trees have been removed.

SCOAG members have reported in recent days a female koala, Evodie, “stressed and struggling to find a safe refuge from off-leash dogs” on Ray Frawley Fields.

Campaigners fear another "tragedy"
An artist's impression of the proposed new $19 million pedestrian footbridge.

Mr Barkla said there appears to an issue over policing the fields, half of which are owned by Moreton Bay City Council and half by Education Queensland.

There was a “near miss” when a koala, ushered off the four-lane Elizabeth Ave, went straight up a power pole, forcing the driver to put out a social media appeal for help.

Escape poles for koalas over fencing have also been vandalised and gates to the area are being left open.

Mr Barkla said “more endangered koalas will be killed” if they don’t fix the “ongoing design and open gate issues urgently”.

Work started on the controversial overpass 12 months ago. When completed, it will link Clontarf Beach State High School with its “western campus" – the fields before the Ray Frawley Fields.

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