Labor Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren, Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes have slammed the NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock for missing the deadline to find a long-term solution for the erosion of Stockton Beach – a deadline she set herself.
After being called out on her lack of action by Mr Crakanthorp and NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay in September last year, the Minister finally visited the devastated community in October and told ABC Radio that she wanted an answer to the catastrophic erosion agreed upon by the end of 2019, saying:
“There are a whole lot of options on the table. I want them all looked at and estimated before the end of the year and then a solution found.”
(ABC News, 2 October 2019)
It is now the end of February and the Minister has not said a word.
Despite the Minister for Local Government declaring the beach as an open coast location (erosion hotspot), which means the State Government is able to fast-track applications for funding, there are still two outstanding grant applications from Newcastle City Council that the Minister is yet to approve. These are:
- $498,000 requested for coastal protection works at the southern end of Griffith Avenue and Stone Street, Stockton; and
- An additional $240,000 for beach nourishment along the southern part of Stockton Beach.
“Ultimately it’s the community that are paying the high price for the Minister’s incompetence, neglect and failure to find a long-term solution,” Mr Warren said.
“The dire situation at Stockton Beach worsens every day the Minister fails to act.
“It’s inexcusable that the Minister failed to meet her own deadline.”
Mr Crakanthorp said that the Stockton community was not even being treated with basic respect.
“Once again the State Government has failed the people of Stockton,” he said.
“Was the Minister’s commitment last year simply lip service to make us shut up?
“This community is on tenterhooks and they deserve to be treated much, much better than this – they deserve to have Minister Hancock deliver on her commitment.”
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that while City of Newcastle continues to work with the NSW Government to address coastal erosion at Stockton Beach, the recent closure of Lexie’s by the Beach and the forced temporary relocation of Stockton Holiday Park cabins highlighted the need for an urgent solution.
“While City of Newcastle has undertaken emergency works to ensure community safety and protect public assets at immediate risk, the current situation at Stockton highlights our desperate need for assistance to address coastal erosion over the long term, through a collaborative approach between all levels of government”.
“Once again, we respectfully ask the NSW Government to consider legislative or regulatory change to allow for emergency offshore marine dredging for sand nourishment at Stockton Beach.”
“City of Newcastle remains firmly of the view that large scale beach nourishment, coupled with coastal asset protection is the best solution to protect the Stockton community and property from the ongoing erosion disaster at Stockton Beach.”