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Labor, show us your Coastal Management Plan

On Wednesday 27 th February, Penny Sharpe, Deputy Opposition Leader and shadow environment minister spoke on ABC radio South East and stated that NSW Labor did not have a coastal management policy. She did recognise its importance, and suggested it would be one of the first things her party would look at in government. Are we expected to believe that Labor has no coastal management policy when the issue has been brewing as an election issue for some time? I suggest to coastal residents that Labor does have a coastal management policy, but Penny is too frightened to release it before the March election. The Eurobodalla branch of the NSW Coastal Alliance was warned several months ago that the NSW Labor Party intended coordinating with the Greens on both rural and coastal land management issues. Two weeks ago, the Country Labor candidate for Bega, Leanne Atkinson, announced that Labor was supporting the Green’s last-ditch effort to have the Eurobodalla Rural Lands Strategy derailed. This rural lands strategy has taken eight years to finalise and the Greens are making a concerted effort to have restrictive E-zones reinstated and minor zoning concessions reversed. Ms. Atkinson has declined to provide any comment on Labor’s coastal management strategy for the Eurobodalla. Both Penny and Leanne may wish to keep coastal residents in the dark about the future of their properties under a Labor government, but those familiar with the move by Labor councillors and a Greens mayor to reintroduce “planned retreat” on the Central Coast, have a fair idea of what Labor will be offering. NSW Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton committed $5 million for coastal protection works in Batemans Bay, and assured Surfside residents (a coastal vulnerability area near Batemans Bay) that they would not be subjected to “planned retreat” under a Coalition Government. There are still members of the Coalition Government that need to recognise the economic and personal damage that “planned retreat’ will cause NSW coastal residents, but they are at least listening, and in the Andrew Constance’s case, committing funds towards engineered coastal mitigation works. I am not telling anyone how to vote on the 23 rd March, but if your house is in a location that could be declared vulnerable to sea level rise and other coastal hazards under the NSW Coastal Management Act, I would think carefully before casting my vote. Ian Hitchcock Dalmeny NSW


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