Shadow lands minister Mick Veitch yesterday visited the Terrace Holiday Park in Brunswick Heads to pledge that, if elected, a Labor state government would ban camping on the Southern Terrace Reserve and return it for use as a community space.
The ancient and endangered coastal cypress pines on the site comprise a rare a significant ecosystem and the community has been fighting for years against the encroachment on them by the state-owned Reflections Holiday Park group.
Mr Veitch promised the future of the Terrace Reserve would be a key election issue in the upcoming March state poll, saying a Foley Labor Government would save the public space and the endangered pines, while a Liberal National Coalition Government would ‘continue to favour development over the environment’.
He added that lands minister Paul Toole ‘only had to pick up the phone to the trust responsible for managing the parks to give this land back to the public and ensure the protection of its endangered ecosystem’.
‘Labor has listened to the concerns of the community,’ Mr Veitch said.
‘If elected in March, one of my first decisions will be to ensure camping can no longer occur in this sensitive part of the park and return it to open community space.’
Labor’s candidate for the state seat of Balliina, Asren Pugh, has backed Byron Shire Council in firming up its opposition to any plans to use the southern part of the park for commercial purposes.
Over the last three months, more than 1,000 locals have signed onto his petition to return the Terrace Reserve to public space and save the pines.
‘The community’s position on this is clear, with over 1,000 people signing the petition to save our public space and the endangered pines,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘But it’s more than that – I am seriously concerned that having already flogged off billions in public assets, the Coalition government will turn to our priceless coastal caravan parks as a way of propping up the budget bottom line,’ he added.
Mr Pugh accused the trust managing the park of having a pro-development agenda, raising concern that the privatisation of a number of coastal caravan parks would be on the cards if the Government was returned next March.
‘Labor would dedicate parks like the Brunswick Heads caravan park and Southern Terrace reserve to ensure it was protected with ‘parliamentary oversight,’ Mr Pugh said.
National Party Ballina candidate Ben Franklin has responded that park management ‘is committed to ensuring environmental protections are at the forefront of its operations.’
‘Reflections has committed to significantly reduce the number of camping sites from 54 down to 30 and will introduce revegetation and replanting along with protecting cypress pine root zones.’
Yet despite the claims, Council’s own independent arborist report says the only way to improve the trees’ health is by not camping around the root system. A proposal to place load cells around the roots to allow cars and caravans has also been met with ridicule by residents.