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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29415


Mr TICEHURST (4:40 PM) —I rise today to convey to the House the results of last week's Tumbi Creek summit held in my electorate of Dobell. For months I have been calling for an urgent bipartisan meeting with the state member for The Entrance, the New South Wales Minister for Gaming and Racing, Mr Grant McBride, and Wyong Shire Council, to discuss the dire need for the New South Wales government to provide matching funding for the Tumbi Creek dredging and offsite landfill disposal.

I can gladly say that last Friday this multilevel, bipartisan summit meeting came to fruition at Wyong Shire Council. The summit involved Wyong Mayor Brenton Pavier, Deputy Mayor Neil Rose, state member for The Entrance, Grant McBride, and me. Before I discuss the summit, I must say that my approach has been straightforward from day one. For the future of the Central Coast, we must do the proper job and not allow truck loads of sludge to be removed from the mouth of Tumbi Creek and dumped into what is already a shallow estuarine lake.

The summit discussed options to dredge and remove sludge from a heavily silted Tumbi Creek without dumping it into Tuggerah Lakes. It looked at the dredging of about 5,000 cubic metres of spoil, which could last about five years, and it discussed dredging an alternative, wider channel, removing about 15,000 cubic metres of spoil, which could last for 10 years or more before further dredging would be required.

This discussion of options to remove the silt from Tumbi Creek without dispersing it onto the lake bed came after Wyong Shire Council debated and unanimously passed a rescission motion in March this year to stop the dumping of 15,000 cubic metres of silt. Dumping the silt was the financially viable but environmentally disastrous plan of the New South Wales government, rather than see the land fill carted away.

The proposal to dump silt into Tuggerah Lakes was neither approved nor disapproved by the federal government's environmental department, contrary to the state member for The Entrance's comments in the Central Coast Express Advocate of 24 May. The federal department, having no jurisdiction over this matter, simply stated that it could not dictate either way. Despite the federal government having no responsibility over the Tuggerah Lakes system, but given my strong lobbying on this issue, I was successful in gaining the federal government's support for the expenditure of $340,000 in Regional Flood Mitigation Program funding. The Regional Flood Mitigation Program agreement requires that both the federal and state governments agree to the expenditure of funds. Should this amount not be sufficient to fund a third of the final costs of disposing of the silt, I have always said that I am willing to lobby my government for additional funding to do the job properly, as the people of Dobell demand.

It has been very disappointing up to this point that the New South Wales government has failed to acknowledge its responsibilities to the lake that they own—our environment is worth much more than that. However, I am hopeful that, as a result of this summit, the New South Wales government and Grant McBride will join with Wyong Shire Council and the federal government to do this important work at Tumbi Creek in the manner demanded by the Central Coast community.

The state member for The Entrance, while not expressing his support for the project outright, has agreed to accept a proposal from council outlining the manner of the dredge works that will be undertaken once this has been finalised and the amount of funding the council is seeking from the New South Wales government to undertake the project. This issue is too important for cheap politics and game playing. We are talking about an issue that affects residents of the Central Coast, our tourism industry and future generations. While it is disappointing that no firm decision could be taken, as I would have liked, I am hopeful that we are all thinking the same and are committed to ensuring an outcome which benefits the local community as well as the environment. I am hopeful that a positive resolution will be made be made by Wyong Shire Council at its meeting on 9 June. I stand ready to support the work of Wyong Council and the state member for The Entrance, Grant McBride, to ensure that sludge is not dumped into our precious lake system.