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Environment: Tuggerah Lakes.



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ADJOURNMENT: Environment: Tuggerah Lakes

Mr TICEHURST (Dobell) (9.05 p.m.) —Last Friday night, over 300 concerned and frustrated residents in my electorate of Dobell gathered at a public meeting at The Entrance High School to protest against the New South Wales Labor government and Wyong Labor councillors' plans to dump 15,000 cubic metres of silt from congested Tumbi Creek into the jewel of the Central Coast—that is, Tuggerah Lakes.

I have strongly campaigned against plans to disperse the dredged spoil onto the lake bed. The support I have received along the way from local families, fishermen, environmentalists and businesspeople who are concerned about the impact of these plans on the lake has been overwhelming. Last Friday's meeting was no different. People in my electorate and beyond are angry that the New South Wales government, owner of the lake system, and representatives of Wyong Council, manager of the lakes, are shirking responsibility on this issue that has far-reaching effects.

What amazes me is how the New South Wales government and local Labor councillors can ignore the plea for help from the people they are supposed to represent. Not one Labor representative was present at Friday's meeting. The firm commitment of $340,000 of federal money to assist in doing this job properly by having the sludge from Tumbi Creek carted away is still on offer to Wyong Shire Council and the New South Wales government. We now have to keep making noise as a community to encourage the New South Wales government and local state MPs to provide their fair share of funding.

Opposition leader Mark Latham recently visited the Central Coast. I took this opportunity to challenge him to seek a commonsense approach from his local Labor Party colleagues over the Tumbi Creek issue. The member for Werriwa's response was to accuse me of political point scoring. He claims that he would like to see the federal and state governments working together. Mr Latham, if this is true, why are you not urging your state Labor colleagues to adopt a commonsense approach to this important issue that is in the interests of hundreds of residents and our local fishing and tourism industries? My approach has been straightforward and from the heart from day one. We cannot allow up to 15,000 cubic metres of silt to be removed from the mouth of Tumbi Creek and dumped into what is already a shallow estuarine lake. It is that simple.

I am disappointed that the Labor Party has pulled together on this issue in a stubborn attempt to play party politics with our environment. At no point has my fight for federal funding to have the sludge removed from the site been supported by any elected member of the Australian Labor Party. Our environment is worth much more than that and I urge the Leader of the Opposition to take some leadership on this issue rather than just use more political rhetoric. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: use your clout to change your Labor colleagues' focus towards the best possible outcome for our precious lakes.

I will now briefly outline the poor record of Labor candidates and their representatives on Tumbi Creek. Grant McBride, the state member for The Entrance, failed to lobby the Carr Labor government to match federal government funding for the Tumbi Creek project. He publicly supported removing the sludge from the creek and dumping it into Tuggerah Lakes. The Hon. Craig Knowles, the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning and Minister for Natural Resources, failed to respond to the offer of financial assistance to have the sludge removed from the Tumbi Creek site made by the federal Minister for Territories, Local Government and Roads, Ian Campbell. Wyong Shire Labor councillor Bill Thompson actively disrupted my meetings and press conferences at Tumbi Creek. Both Councillor Thompson and fellow Labor councillor Kath Forster voted against Councillor Brenton Pavier's recision motion to stop council plans to dump sludge in the lake. Paul Crittenden, the state member for Wyong, has not made any public comment on the plan to dump sludge into Tuggerah Lakes, even when Tuggerah Lakes is the

centrepiece of his state electorate. David Mehan, the Labor candidate for Dobell, has not made any public comment on the plan to dump sludge into Tuggerah Lakes and irresponsibly organised and attended non-related protests at the site of Tumbi Creek to coincide with the visit to the site by the federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, David Kemp. The state Labor government's response to public pressure was to add eight more license conditions before the sludge dumping could proceed. This forced the issue past the March council elections.

In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the local Wyong action group—Wyong Action to Curb Highrise Committee for Envirocare Inc; known as the WATCH committee—for coordinating this public meeting to encourage people to express their concern about the future of Tuggerah Lakes. I would like to thank the local residents for supporting my campaign. I have been obviously frustrated because the federal government has no direct jurisdiction over the lake system. (Time expired)