More than six months after the Premier announced that the Department of Planning would look at buying back the Mambo Wetlands, the process has been exposed as a flop.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington has used questions in Parliament to confirm that the property developer who purchased the ‘mistakenly’ sold koala habitat has ignored the Department of Planning’s offer.
Port Stephens Councillor Jaimie Abbott had tried to take credit in February when the Premier announced that the Planning Department would be approaching the developer, but the self-congratulations were premature.
At the time, the Premier’s unofficial spokesperson in Port Stephens, Catherine Cusack MLC, said the government “would work in partnership with the Council to protect the old school site in perpetuity.”
Instead, the Government has failed to secure the buyback of this precious asset and ignored the community’s concern.
Kate Washington MP has gained the support of the Labor Opposition to commit to buying the land back if elected in 2019, either through voluntary sale or by using the Government’s compulsory acquisition process.
Local community pressure has already seen off two Development Applications for the land.
Washington, Kate to the Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing, and Special Minister for State:
When will the Department make a determination on the application to repurchase the Mambo Wetlands site at Salamander Bay using funding from the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme?
ANSWER: I am advised:
The Department of Planning and Environment has offered to purchase the land using funding from the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme. At this point in time the owner of the Mambo Wetlands site at Salamander Bay has not accepted the offer.
Quotes attributable to Kate Washington MP
“The Liberal Government failed to listen to the community when they sold this land in a fire-sale, and now they’ve failed to buy it back.
“Gladys Berejiklian has been caught out by her own privatisation agenda. It is obviously much harder to buy things back than it is to sell them off in a fire sale.
“Our community shouldn’t have to continually fight against plans to develop the site. This land should never have been sold in the first place.
“The government has the power to compulsorily acquire the land, but I now suspect they’re holding off until they have a Liberal candidate in place so she can take credit.”
This item was distributed as a media release on Tuesday 7 August 2018.