On Thursday afternoon this Chamber will pause to debate a petition signed by almost 15,000 residents which calls on the New South Wales Government to buy back the Mambo Wetlands. Six hectares of the Mambo Wetlands was sold by this Government to a property developer in 2016 for the paltry sum of $250,000. In tomorrow's debate I will outline why this low act represents everything that is wrong about this Government's priorities, but today I acknowledge the amazing people who have done all they can to protect this precious piece of land.
I firstly acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Worimi people who walked these lands for centuries before any of us. Prior to the Government selling it off, Worimi elder Carol Ridgeway-Bissett sought protection of the Mambo Wetlands as an Aboriginal place. Carol has addressed the community forum and numerous rallies we have held, speaking of the importance of the land and her people's connection to it. I also acknowledge Walter and Margaret Lamond and their fellow members of the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Reserves and Landcare Committee. Walter, Margaret and their fellow Landcare workers have spent the past decades caring for this land.
On 7 May 2016, the "for sale" sign went up. Residents rallied in an effort to stop the sale. Eileen Donaldson set up the first Facebook page to keep people connected and to disseminate information. Many locals joined the push, with more than 200 people attending a community forum and many more attending rallies. I give a special mention to Guy Innes for his beautiful photographs of the wetlands, from soaring sea eagles to iconic shots of koalas licking the sand on the beach, capturing a little-known activity that occurs nowhere else in the world.
Wildlife rescuers such as Ron Land, Simone Aurino and Carmel Northwood from Port Stephens Koalas have contributed enormously to our understanding of the importance of this special parcel of land to our community. I also acknowledge the support I have received in this campaign from shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe, shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib, local Labor Party members and members of the Port Stephens Greens, including Robyn Williams and Nigel Waters. The impressive cross‑section of community that has supported this effort shows just how much my community cares about this parcel of land that was sold to developers by this Government.
Some months after the sale, a development application was lodged with Port Stephens Council for residential accommodation on the site. A committee of local residents was formed as the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Conservation Group. Spearheaded by Kathy Brown and Irene Jones, these residents lead the fight against the development application and set about organising the petition that will be debated in this place tomorrow. Other valuable members of this group include Heather Callister, Pamela Churchman, Anne Cordwell, Margaret Manning, Robyn Williams, Kassia Klinger, Nigel Waters, Margaret and Walter Lamond, Brian Tehan, Sue Van Mechelen, Jennifer Warman and Sue White. This group held stalls throughout summer, and from early December to late January was able to collect the more than 14,000 signatures necessary to trigger the discussion that will be conducted in this place tomorrow.
As well as the stalls being arranged by the group, the petition was placed in many supportive businesses. They were: Terry White Pharmacy, Nelson Bay; Nelson Bay Discount Pharmacy; Nelson Bay Health Foods; Nelson Bay Gloria Jeans; Nelson Bay Tile House; Our Place Preschool, Nelson Bay; Let's Go Adventure scuba diving, Nelson Bay; Corlette General Store; Marine-Tek at The Anchorage Marina; Port Stephens Pet Warehouse, Taylors Beach; Webster's Newsagency at Little Salamander Bay; McCauley's Bottle Shop, Little Salamander Bay; Hunter Physiotherapy, Salamander Bay; Port Stephens Pet Barn, Salamander Bay; Jax Tyres, Salamander Bay; Amcal Chemist Salamander Bay; Shoal Bay Pharmacy; Horizons Golf Resort; Soldiers Point Bowling Club; Hunter Wetlands Centre; Karuah Centre; Karuah and District RSL Club; Fibonacci Coffee, Raymond Terrace; Meryl Swanson, MP's office Raymond Terrace; Nelson Bay Information Centre; Macadamia Cafe at Medowie; Peninsular Hotel, Nelson Bay; Iggy's Bazaar, Nelson Bay; Nelson Bay Bowling Club; Gloria Jeans, Salamander Bay; the Marina Ice Creamery, Nelson Bay; Lemon Tree Passage Visitor Information Centre; and St Philips Christian College.
I apologise if I did not mention anyone who has contributed to this campaign. I hope the Government recognises how much effort has been put in and the wide cross-section of the community that has been involved in opposing its sale of this precious parcel of land.
This has been a true community campaign. I hope it will resonate on the floor of this House tomorrow afternoon when the voices of 14,000 people will be heard in this place. After all, it was not the Government's land to sell; it belonged to the people of New South Wales and it never should have been flogged off to a developer.