NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was in Port Macquarie on Tuesday to announce state-owned land would be gifted to a koala hospital for expansion.
The move came on the same day that campaigners in Port Stephens were in dismay, as the federal government approved the Brandy Hill quarry expansion into koala habitat.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said the premier's move was "an offensive attempt to distract from what they've done".
The NSW government's Independent Planning Commission had already approved the quarry expansion project in July.
Opinion on this issue:'They have rocks in their head': Action group slams quarry call
Federal environment minister Sussan Ley gave the final approval on Tuesday, despite concerns about the expansion affecting koalas and their habitat.
As she posed for publicity photos and video at Port Macquarie's Koala Hospital, Ms Berejiklian said: "This extra land will ensure the hospital can continue to provide world-class care for our Aussie icons".
"This gifting of state government land back to the koala hospital is on behalf of the people of NSW. It's not from the government or certain individuals. It's a gift from the people of NSW to protect our much loved species."
In June, a year-long parliamentary inquiry found that koalas will become extinct before 2050 in NSW unless there is urgent government intervention to prevent habitat loss.
"I feel like this is a tipping point," said Ms Washington, the NSW shadow minister for the environment.
"We're going backwards at a time when we need to be making significant change to stop the extinction of koalas."
She said it was frustrating that the NSW government "thinks that funding koala hospitals is enough".
She added that the government had moved to further weaken environment laws for koalas.
"That passed our house last sitting and it'll go to the upper house next sitting," she said.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said the federal decision was "a disappointing outcome".
"I want to see our state's koala populations not only protected but thriving into the future," Mr Kean said.
"Let me be clear, if the proponent of this project in any way does not comply with the strict conditions of its approval, I would expect our state's environmental agencies to apply the full force of the law."
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said Ms Ley's approval was "completely devastating".
"I know there have been a lot of tears shed in the Port Stephens community," she said.
Dive deeper: Port Stephens koalas and the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion:
- Brandy Hill Quarry expansion plans will destroy 50 hectares of koala habitat(January 15, 2020)
- Brandy Hill residents fear for koala population if quarry expands(June 30, 2020)
- Resident bid to save koalas from Brandy Hill Quarry expansion(August 21, 2020)
- Koala experts from University of Newcastle urge government to consider impact on habitat in expansion approval(September 3, 2020)
- Federal government under pressure to reject Brandy Hill quarry expansion(September 6, 2020)
- Brandy Hill Quarry expansion plan delayed, Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group say proposal could disrupt koala habitat(September 7, 2020)
- Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley visits Brandy Hill and scene of koala controversy(September 30, 2020)
- Save Port Stephens Koalas vows to keep pressure on as Federal Environment Minister delays Brandy Hill quarry decision(October 8, 2020)
- Save Port Stephens Koalas campaign rolls on with Brandy Hill Hanson quarry decision delay(October 8, 2020)