If the residents of Lennox Head want to know what the sale of council land at Lake Ainsworth to the state government is really all about they need look no further than what has unfolded at Brunswick Heads over the last two years. It is not a pretty picture!
Make no mistake, this is not just about the sale of one or two blocks of land. This is about the state government trying to get the public out of the Lake Ainsworth area so it can be turned into a huge and private tourist facility.
In Brunswick Heads, the Terrace Reserve, a riverside stretch of parkland that has been used by Brunswick families over 100 years, was the subject of a similar attempt to buy council land. As with the Lennox Head plan, the state government did a quiet deal with council to buy ‘strategic’ land at a fraction of its real worth for ‘public purpose recreation’.
What the plans later revealed was the commercial development of this parkland into a year-round upmarket tourist resort that would fence off and exclude residents from parkland and swimming areas they had used all their lives. Once this was understood, Byron councillors unanimously voted to oppose the sale. The state responded that they would compulsorily acquire it anyway.
Part of the land that the state government needed for their development in Brunswick was a council road reserve. It was strategic land as once it was owned it could then be used to fence off the entire parkland. The Ross St blocks appear even more strategic as they will be able to control entry to Lake Ainsworth. Once this ‘gateway’ is under state rule, public access will become progressively restricted until the final fences go up and all public access to the lake and parkland becomes a thing of the past.
The Brunswick experience proves North Coast Holiday Parks will allow camping and cabins right on the waterline; they will claim exclusive use of lakeside beaches and swimming and boating areas; they will ‘compulsorily acquire’ and close public roads virtually overnight and they will fence off what was once public land for the exclusive use of their fee-paying guests.
Never happen at Lake Ainsworth you say? This’s what the residents of Brunswick Heads thought a few years ago.
The state government has given a clear directive to the Crown Lands Department to source and develop desirable coastal public land into revenue-raising, exclusive tourist areas. They plan to then offer these prime waterside developments to private tender. Total privatisation will then be just a small step away.
Sadly, the government department that once protected, defended and maintained our public lands appears to have become a ruthless developer. A private developer would have no hope of achieving such a venture and neither should any government department.
Sean O’Meara,?Terrace Residents Group, Brunswick Heads