Public memorial for Australia's first Asian migrant elected to parliament | Former Victorian Senator Tsebin Tchen died in a car crash in South Australia on November 25.
There will be no new developments within 570,000 hectares of a 'koala priority area' in south-east Queensland, according to a new draft strategy announced by the State Government.
Koala populations have decreased by up to 80 per cent over the past 20 years with almost three-quarters of essential habitat destroyed since 1960.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said areas identified as vital for koala conservation will be preserved in what is a 'once in a generation opportunity'.
"There'll be allowed some limited clearing for fire breaks, but that's basically it," she said.
"This is about the continual survival of a vulnerable species."
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the strategy is the result of years of research.
"We need to create these corridors where koala population can thrive … not in small pockets," she said.
The strategy has identified 150,700 hectares of public and private land suitable for restoration.
"These pockets of areas are really important areas to sustain, but also they need to find connection to the rest of the corridor," Ms Enoch said.
"To create those corridors we've got koala priority areas, and of course we've got areas where we want to see restoration."
A large proportion of koala habitat is on privately-owned land which is why Ms Enoch said affected landholders should provide feedback.
"We needed to have unified mapping regime," she said.
One of the priority areas is in East Coomera on the Gold Coast, which is home to one of south-east Queensland's largest koala populations.
In 2018, a redacted Gold Coast City Council report suggested the population of several hundred koalas would become unviable within 50 years unless action was taken.
Coomera Conservation Group spokesperson Karina Waterman said they had waited four years for a strategy, but her first impression was "cautiously optimistic".
"We see all these developments happening and they create all these isolated pockets that are not connected," she said.
"The koalas in those areas, those pockets, they're under a lot of pressure and they're the ones we see hit by cars, attacked by dogs. We see disease really flourish."
Ms Waterman said restoration of the area could even increase Coomera's koala population.
"Some of the land has been degraded by previous clearing," she said.
"We have localised populations around the place that are still large enough that they can continue to reproduce — provided we act now."
Koala Advisory Council chair Mark Townend said despite the significant decline in koala population over two decades, it was never too late to act.
"People can still live in south-east Queensland, but in context with those koalas," he said.
"This will also protect all the other wildlife that live under that koala."
University of Queensland Ecologist Jonathan Rhodes said the exact koala population in south-east Queensland is hard to track but probably exceeds 50,000.
"This strategy is an evidence-based strategy. It's protecting large, important areas of koala habitat across south-east Queensland and also puts habitat back as well," he said.
"This will make a big difference in terms of trying to recover koala populations across the region."
The consultation period for South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-24 ends on January 31, 2020.
Residents who were forced to flee a dangerous grass fire in Ipswich yesterday thought "the whole town would go up" after the blaze ignited a shipping container full of fireworks and flames edged dangerously close to homes.
The blaze was initially sparked by a house fire in Bundamba which quickly spread into nearby vegetation, causing more than a hundred people to evacuate and an emergency to be declared.
Firefighters were unable to save the house but confirmed no one was inside at the time.
At the peak of the emergency several homes were under threat and the blaze destroyed sheds, boats, cars and other property in neighbouring backyards.
Jason Parker tried to protect his house with a hose but the smoke and flames became too intense to stay.
"It was very scary … it just took off like wildfire — it was insane," he said.
Mr Parker said he feared the fire would destroy his home just nine years after it was inundated by water in the 2011 south-east Queensland floods.
"With a flood your house is still there, everything gets wet and dirty, but a fire — we would of lost everything. Just thank god the house is alright," he said.
A shipping container of fireworks on Craig Stevenson's property exploded when the fire spread to his land.
Two other containers weren't damaged.
He said the fireworks were stored in a way to minimise the risk of damage.
"If you look at the structure, you can see that the way it's made that the fireworks actually exploded and the door came open and it all worked the way it should — luckily."
"Thankfully they're all properly mounded and they're well maintained and luckily there is a lot of firefighting equipment around."
Mr Stevenson said the blaze continued to reignite in several areas after it was extinguished and described the flames as moving like a "tornado".
"It was like you'd never seen. You could see it twisting in the air and moving in all directions," he said.
Bundamba MP Jo Ann Miller said the fire was a reminder for Ipswich residents to stay vigilant.
"Everyone in Ipswich has been fairly well prepared for this fire season," she said.
"We do know its been very, very hot, however this is a wake-up call for everyone in the Ipswich area to be very careful and vigilant."
WA Police have issued a warning about the potentially deadly illicit drug GHB after it was linked to three fatal overdoses in Perth.
Three people died from drug overdoses in the metropolitan area between Friday night and Saturday, while several others turned up at hospital emergency departments in need of medical attention.
St John Ambulance have also reported a spike in illicit drug overdoses in recent days.
Police said toxicology results on the deaths and emergency hospital admissions were not yet accessible.
But they said information had identified the potential use of GHB, also known as Fantasy and sometimes identified as a "possible link" to several of the overdoses.
A WA Police Force spokesperson said the incidents over the last few days served as a timely reminder of the risks associated with illicit drug use.
"We ask all those who are using, or who are contemplating using illicit drugs, and their families and friends, to be extremely mindful of the serious consequences associated with this activity," he said.
"Users rarely know the purity, strength or origin of illicit drugs and this puts them at significant risk of injury or death."
Premier Mark McGowan called the incidents a tragedy.
"It just brings home once again that any drugs you take [are] putting something into your system that is a risk, and these things just surface as a warning once again not to engage in drugs," he said.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, GHB, which is short for gamma hydroxybutyrate, is a depressant that usually comes as a colourless, odourless, bitter or salty liquid, and usually sold in small bottles or vials.
National Drug Research Institute Professor Steve Allsop said the illegal drug also contained anaesthetic properties.
"It can cause drowsiness, sleepiness and short-term memory loss, which is why sometimes it's used in sexual assault," he said.
"In small doses, people might feel relaxed, sociable, euphoric and they might have a lack of inhibition, but high doses can cause vomiting, dizziness, poor coordination, confusion and hallucinations."
But experts said due to the chemical composition of the drug, it was very easy to take too much.
"Some people may think they're not quite having the effect they want, so they top it up," Professor Allsop said.
"But the real problem with this drug is the difference between the effective dose and an overdose is very small, so a very small additional amount can actually result in a very serious risk of overdose."
Professor Allsop said an increase in drug use was very common this time of the year.
"People are celebrating the end of university, the end of school, the start of holidays and unfortunately that time of celebration is also a time when some people take more drugs," he said.
"The easiest way obviously to avoid the risk is not to take any substances, but unfortunately the rewards are so high that people are willing to take the risk."
Professor Allsop also blamed the internet for the easy access people now had to illicit substances.
"People can look through the internet, get advice on the legality of substances that is not always accurate or true and then order online and get it delivered through the post," he said.
"This has changed the nature of drug availability and drug use and created new challenges for law enforcement and for public health.
"Even if something's called GHB or ecstasy, that might not be what you're taking. The illicit nature of these drugs means that what's actually in a substance can change from time to time and that means the risk can change from time to time as well."
Mr McGowan said there were targeted services across the state that were aimed to educate and prevent drug use.
"We have very significant programs to educate people about not taking drugs. We have rehabilitation programs across Western Australia, and we have major law enforcement initiatives," he said.
"Don't start on drugs because if you do, the consequences can be tragic."
Anyone with information about the recent drug overdoses has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers.