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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3485

Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (12:39): I rise today to speak about many of the concerns locals in Richmond have about some of the actions of both the federal and state governments. In the federal arena many locals are very concerned about the potential impacts of the budget in May and what will also come out of the Commission of Audit with potential cuts and the impact that will have on locals. They are very worried about the potential $6 doctor tax and also the dismantling of Medicare. The many low income earners and pensioners in my electorate are very worried about that. They are equally concerned about potential cuts to education and the NDIS and to pensions—particularly when the Prime Minister did not rule that out in question time, yesterday. They are also concerned about any cuts to regional funding, which is very important to our area in terms of infrastructure investment.

Another very broad area of concern is the lack of environmental protection from both the federal and state governments. In fact, many locals tell me that, when they look to the Liberal and National parties at state and federal levels they just see environmental vandals. Of course, we see that all the time in our campaigns to have a coal-seam-gas-free North Coast. We saw yesterday the state Liberal and National party government put what I would call a rather pathetic pre-election freeze for six months on new coal-seam-gas licences. That is not what we want. We actually want a CSG-free North Coast, and we will keep on making that clear. We also see the destruction of our marine parks and we have seen the state government allow shooting in national parks.

Another very important environmental issue in my electorate that I want to touch on today is saving lot 490. Lot 490 is a vital piece of open space on the foreshore at Kingscliff, a wonderful coastal town in my electorate. I would like to note that two of the people involved with the Save Lot 490 group, Ron Cooper and Jeremy Cornford, have been outstanding in the work they have done to raise this issue. They have had more than 11,000 people sign their petition to save lot 490. Our National Party state MP, Geoff Provest, and the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, want to sell lot 490, Kingscliff's last coastal reserve, for commercial development. This is Crown land, which rightly belongs to all Australians to enjoy. They have changed it to government property so they can sell it off with no public benefit. Commercial development would deprive everybody of access to the beach, foreshore and bushland and destroy the habitat of a number of highly endangered plants and animals, including the glossy black cockatoo. Crown land and coastal reserves are designed to bring enjoyment to every Australian, not just the privileged few. I stand with them in the need to preserve this land for public use. We have to ensure that it remains in public hands for future generations to be able to enjoy. I commend the Save Lot 490 group for getting more than 11,000 people to sign their petition. Save Lot 490 have released their own concept draft plan aimed at increasing recreational access and preserving the conservation values of the reserve. The plan features increased parking and access to the beach, a series of walking and cycle tracks, dedicated protection areas for endangered plants and enhanced planting of native plants and trees to support the species that are there. Congratulations to the group for doing that.

I was pleased in February to join their campaign and sign the petition and stand with them. I challenged the state local MP, Geoff Provest, to rule out his government's sale of lot 490 to private developers. He refused to do that. We have heard nothing from him. The community and I want to ensure that it is retained and managed as community parkland, but our state MP, Geoff Provest, has been completely silent on this issue. I think he hopes it will go away. It will not. The more than 11,000 people who have signed the petition are adamant about preserving this land in public hands. It is too important. We must keep it as a coastal reserve.

Many Labor people have not been silent. They have been out speaking about how important it is. The Labor candidate for Tweed, Ron Goodman, last week signed the petition. He stood with the people from Save Lot 490, saying how important it was to stand with them to make sure that we preserve this as public open space. He made the point that, with all the new developments in the area, we need to make sure that we can have public open space at lot 490 and make sure it is maintained for the amenity of the area and also for future residents. I congratulate the Labor candidate, Ron Goodman, for making that very public stand.

We need to have the zoning for lot 490 changed to what is known as 'E2'. We need that because that is the only way we can ensure it is retained as a coastal reserve for public open use and not have development there. People do not want development. They do not want a caravan park development there. They want to ensure it is as per the plan created by the lot 490 group. You have all these Labor people who are out there in the community—our state candidate, Ron Goodman; our deputy mayor, Michael Armstrong; our shadow minister for the North Coast, Walt Secord; and me—all united, standing with the community in wanting to see this area preserved. On the other hand, you have the National Party, which will not listen to the concerns of the community—it will not address them at all. It is obviously committed to flogging off this land to whomever they can sell it to. But I reiterate my position: I want to make sure that lot 490 is preserved in public hands. I want to see its zoning changed to E2. I want to see it remain as a great public asset in what is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. Kingscliff is a wonderful little coastal village as well. We have to retain lot 490 in public hands.