Tom Tabart, Bangalow
The announcement of a grant of $300K by Don Page and the accident-prone Robyn Parker for rock works on Belongil beach leaves quite a few questions to be answered.
Is this unusual largesse merely a means to get Parker’s otherwise-untargeted visit some publicity? Is it some form of repayment for the intense lobbying of the Belongil property owners, some of which may also be big political donors? Or more sinisterly, is it an indication that the state government is about to waive the statutory and environmental requirements for such projects and ‘just do it’?
As the phone-booth-full of informed council watchers and even some councillors will know, the GM has been tasked with examining the feasibility and advisability of such works. His brief includes finding the money, which should include subsequent removal of the ‘temporary’ rocks, getting approvals from a myriad of government agencies and bringing it back to council if the Coastal Panel does not give its support.
As someone very familiar with the costs of council projects I know that the $300K will go nowhere near the amount required (for instance there is unlikely to be any change from $50K for the consultant’s report alone) and that still leaves the GM with the other difficult tasks – unless someone overrides the law and the council resolution.
Interestingly, Councillor Woods has put up two notices of motion on this subject: the first is a ‘motherhood’ plea to revisit the urgency of coastal erosion – to which she should have known the answers. The second is to expedite the Belongil rock works. As she voted for the current resolution and presumably understands what she has agreed to, does it indicate prior knowledge of the $300K and a desire to give a helping hand to the Belongil lobby?