Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) is urging the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to ‘respect the ideas and needs put forward by residents in their submissions on the Brunswick Heads Boat harbour masterplan’.
Local boaties, including Migaloo 2 skipper Dean Jefferys have told Echonetdaily they fear the harbour being turned into a privately operated marina that only the rich could afford.
Others to have put up objections include the Brunswick Heads Progress Association, and the College of Marine Studies, whose founder feels it has been sidelined.
Ms Smith commended ‘the residents and stakeholders such as boaties, fishers and community groups who regularly use the harbour’ who she said have been ‘consulting with DPI for at least the last four years on what the master plan should look like’.
She added she was relieved that, ‘in response to initial feedback about the proposal, the department pared back the original over-ambitious plans, which many feared would turn the humble boat harbour into a flashy marina, which could only be afforded by the wealthy who would use it as a place to park and party in their “gin palaces”.
But she said, while the masterplan is still only at a concept stage, ‘some of those fears remain, and I call upon the government to listen to the concerns of the Brunswick community, with its motto of providing “simple pleasures” to residents and locals alike, and not open the way for a private operator to turn the harbour into a rich persons’ playground.
‘Issues such as retention of the wooden walkway/wharf, which has provided a leisurely walking and fishing site for families for decades, will need to be decided based on engineering advice regarding the safety and the cost of extending its life expectancy, and the community is likely to be flexible on that outcome,’ Ms Smith said.
‘Groups including the Progress Association and the Chamber of Commerce agree on the need for some resolution – in the community’s favour – on the issue of parcels of land on either side of the harbour, including the much-discussed Lot 7005.
Trust mustn’t ride roughshod
‘The state government must not allow Crown Holiday Parks Trust to ride roughshod over the wishes of the community and encroach further onto this waterside strip, nor forge ahead with its plan to create another entrance to Massey Greene Holiday Park, across Lot 7005 requiring a turn-off from the a corner on the at-times very busy Old Pacific Highway.
‘On the other side of the harbour, where launching boats from trailers is carried out, any plans to ease the launching must take note of locals’ wishes to retain trees and natural ambience.’
Ms Smith admitted that not everyone would be happy with the progress on the plan, even at this stage, adding ‘I regret the loss of an opportunity for Phillip Walters to realise his vision for a marine college at the site, and for the loss of convenience for some of the boaties who have for long enjoyed a casual and carefree existence within the harbour’.
But she has urged the government ‘to acknowledge and respect the work done by tireless voluntary groups over the years such as Marine Rescue and Surf Life Saving who have carried out their public-spirited duties uncomplainingly in sometimes difficult circumstances.
‘I look forward to the creation of fresh infrastructure that will allow such groups to operate more effectively,’ Ms Smith said.