Having previously campaigned against the NSW Government’s ‘mistaken’ sale of the Mambo Wetlands, Port Stephens Council is at risk of repeating history by planning to sell off public land used by local koalas to reach the Salamander Bay shoreline.
On Tuesday, Councillors will vote on whether Port Stephens Council should sell vacant land at 109 Foreshore Drive Salamander Bay, directly across the road from the Mambo Wetlands.
Local residents report that the block of land, which forms part of a small council reserve, is used as an access route for koalas to reach the shores of Port Stephens. Photos have been supplied (attached) showing koalas using the trees in the area subject to the sale.
Any development on the site will interrupt these rare koala travel routes and place additional strain on the local threatened species, particularly during construction.
Mayor Ryan Palmer has stated that proceeds of the sale of the land will be put towards an upgrade to Tomaree Sporting Complex.
The proceeds from the sale are unlikely to pass 1% of the $65 million cost of the Tomaree Sporting Complex upgrade, while putting a fragile koala population further at risk.
The NSW Government recently committed $3 million towards a koala hospital for the region, recognising the local population is at risk because of the cumulative habitat loss caused by public land sales and development.
Last year, the NSW Scientific Committee recommended Port Stephens koalas be recognised as ‘endangered’, but the threat level increase was blocked by legislative changes made by the Berejiklian Government.
Quotes attributable to Kate Washington MP
“The land is a well-known koala corridor and sits next to the Mambo Wetlands which the community is still fighting to protect. After speaking with local residents, I can’t support this sale.
“Following the unprecedented groundswell of public support to protect Mambo Wetlands, I think the community had hoped these kind of deals were a thing of the past.
“Council’s short-sighted plans to flog off this land are really disappointing, and the argument that it needs to be sold to pay for sporting facilities is bizarre.
“The proceeds from the sale will represent a drop in the ocean compared with the total project cost for the sports facilities upgrades. The sale cannot be justified on this basis.
“It’s strange to see the Council supporting the campaign against the sale of the Mambo Wetlands, but then repeating the mistake with their own land.
“The land was understood to be community land, providing public access to the foreshore and an important pathway for the Koalas from Mambo Wetlands to the beach. I urge everyone to contact their councillors to express any concerns they may have."
This item was distributed as a media release on Monday 21 May 2018.