Federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot yesterday became the 11,044th signatory to a petition to save one of the last remaining blocks of coastal land on the Tweed.
Dubbed Lot 490, the 40-hectare block between Kingscliff and Salt has been the subject of a public campaign for years to have it retained as a coastal reserve.
Mrs Elliot also took the opportunity to challenge her state counterpart, Tweed MP Geoff Provest, to declare that Lot 490 would remain public open space.
‘Geoff Provest must guarantee that Lot 490 remains the property of the community with no strings attached,’ Mrs Elliot said.
‘Our community does not want private developers to get hold of this environmentally significant public coastal area. More than 11,000 people have signed this petition to protect Lot 490,’ she added.
‘Geoff Provest has been silent on the issue and hopes the community will go away. This issue will not go away. The land is too important to the community as a coastal reserve.
‘We want to ensure that it is retained and managed as community parklands and as a permanent public natural coastal reserve,’ Mrs Elliot said.
Mr Provest has said in the past he supported the retention of Lot 490 in public hands and recently offered to arrange a delegation of from the Save Our Lot 490 group to meet with either the Crown Lands minister and deputy premier Andrew Stoner, or the finance and government property minister Andrew Constance.
But spokesperson for the group, Jerry Cornford, told Echonetdaily yesterday that he was disappointed his members were not given the opportunity to meet with the deputy premier when he was in the region a fortnight ago.
He said that efforts by Mr Provest to arrange a meeting of 490 delegates with Mr Stoner during the visit elicited the response from government staffers that the minister would be ‘too busy’.
‘Mr Stoner could easily have agreed to meet with us when he was up two weeks ago,’ Mr Cornford said.
‘It should not be up to us to pay our own way to Sydney when the cabinet comes up here at our expense and is then “too busy” to meet with us, especially when the minister for the north coast, Don Page, lives only 40 minutes’ drive away,’ he added.
But Mr Cornford said he was pleased that at least Tweed mayor Barry Longland got to speak to the deputy premier on the subject.
‘Cr Longland said the minister was willing to discuss Council’s buying back the land from the government property department, as resolved at Council’s January 2014 meeting, and refunding Council the purchase price,’ he said.
‘Mr Stoner pointed out that he’d have to discuss the matter with the department and that [anyway] no action could be taken until two Aboriginal land claims over the land had been resolved.’
Last year the embattled Leightons Property group pulled the pin on a proposed resort project earmarked for the site, handing it back to the state government and prompting locals to intensify their campaign for its retention in public ownership.
But in a controversial move, the state government changed the status of the beachfront block, east of Casuarina Way, from Crown land to ‘government property’, which the site’s defenders saw as preparing it for sale.
Before handing it back, Leightons had state-government approval for a resort on the site, which remains active.
Lot 490 was also the site of a rare species of orchid, Geodorum Densiflorum, destroyed by a fire police believe was deliberately lit in July last year, only two weeks after staff had collected seeds and sent them to the Millennium Seed Project at Royal Kew Gardens in the UK.