OLIVIA Newton-John and Jimmy Barnes are among several celebrities who have added their star power to the fight to stop the Brandy Hill quarry expansion.
The entertainment legends have called for Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to save 52 hectares of koala breeding habitat in Port Stephens earmarked for the quarry.
Olivia Newton-John has joined our fight to save 52 hectares of koala breeding habitat in Port Stephens. 🤩— Last chance to Save Port Stephens koalas (@savePSkoalas) September 22, 2020
"I'm asking our Australian environmental minister @sussanley MP to please refuse the permit to bulldoze this land."#saveportstephenskoalas#stopbrandyhillpic.twitter.com/GnmDJbOniG
The decision on the quarry's expansion was due at the start of September but was pushed back to October after a report commissioned by the Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group indicated the expansion would create a significant barrier to koala movements.
"It is not often a grassroots campaign run in a regional area of Australia gets noticed by high profile Australians," campaign manager Victoria Jack said. "It is quite powerful."
The group reached out to several celebrities who had previously aligned themselves with environmental campaigns, or who had links with the local area. The campaign had already garnered interest across the globe with messages coming in from Italy, Germany, Ireland, Israel and even South Africa, but the star power people like Newton-John brought to the cause was priceless, Ms Jack said.
"We feel like it is a real moment in time and as a nation Australians are saying that we are no longer willing to accept the destruction of koala habitat."
Singer and actress Newton-John used a video message to call for the preservation of koala habitat, specifically calling out the Port Stephens land earmarked for the controversial quarry expansion, and asked MP Ley to refuse the permit.
"Koalas have always been very special to me," Ms Newton-John said in her video message released overnight.
"Because of the loss of habitat through drought and of course fires, and climate change and land clearing, our koalas are facing extinction by 2050.
"We must do something to turn this around."
The performer and star of film Grease has ties with the Hunter community after her father, Brinley Newton-John, joined the University of Newcastle in 1958 as an associate professor and later became Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
Meanwhile Barnes used his social channels to spread the message.
"First full day of rehearsals for my first gig in [seven] months," he posted.
"Meanwhile the poor koalas are copping it again, you'd think after last year's bushfires, bulldozing 52 hectares of their habitat wouldn't be on anyone's radar."
First full day of rehearsals for my first gig in 7 months. Meanwhile the poor koalas are copping it again, you’d think after last year’s bushfires, bulldozing 52 hectares of their habitat wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar. PLEASE don’t take any more from them. #saveportstephenskoalaspic.twitter.com/1218HhlziF— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) September 22, 2020
Earlier this week actress Magda Szubanski joined the call to stop the quarry. On Monday she used her Twitter account to encourage her followers to contact the minister.
"Please urge [Susan Ley] to #stopbrandyhill quarry expansion which involves the clearing of 52 hectares of critical koala habitat," she wrote.
"Our precious koalas have suffered enough."
Shayna Blaze from popular renovation television show The Block and politician Zali Steggall have also joined the campaign this week.
Construction materials company Hanson operates the Brandy Hill Quarry.
The company planned to expand the operation, with a proposal to more than double extraction rates to 1.5 million tonnes of rock a year and almost quadruple the area being quarried.
The expansion was approved by the state government in July, but is awaiting the federal minister's final decision.
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