The official opening, by the Deputy Premier of NSW, of the Observation Point Lookout, in Observation Avenue, Batehaven was scheduled for February 10th 2023 however that event has now been put off until the end of April.
The Lookout was to be opened by the NSW Deputy Premier recognising the Australian and NSW Government Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund as one of the contributing funds to the project, as can be seen below from Council's website
The fact is that the Observation Point Viewing Platform already had $772,500 listed in the 2019/2020 Capital works program that had come from grants that Council had already received, being $672,000 from Building Better Regions Fund, $145,000 from Bushfire Regional Tourism Fund, $75,000 from Stronger Country Communities Fund, along with contributions from Rotary Club and Council.
This left $573,000 to be accessed from the now controversial Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund to finish the job.
It is the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund that has gained a media spotlight this week due to the actions of a previous Deputy Premier where The Auditor General reveals:
The Department of Regional NSW did not effectively administer the Fast-Tracked stream of the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery program. The administration process lacked integrity, given it did not have sufficiently detailed guidelines, and the assessment process for projects lacked transparency and consistency.
The General Manager of Eurobodalla Council at the time wrote in a letter to local group ABE dated Dec 14th, 2020: advising:
"While Council did not officially submit an application for funding for this project [Batemans Bay Coastal Headland walk] under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery fund, the Government was aware of this project as a result of the above strategies."
So it appears that the Federal Government and the State Government were aware of a notional idea of a Coastal Walk that had no route, no costings, no evidence of SPECIFIC PROJECT consultation with the community and they decided it was such a vital project that they would bypass all scrutiny and give $5.25M to the project even though Eurobodalla hadn't actually asked for it.
The Council have now (January 2023), revealed that they will only build less than 50% of the distance that was funded due to the fact that it wasn't shovel ready, and the required assessments and consultation HAD NOT been done.
With the media watching this issue very carefully and with so many questions still unanswered around allegations of pork barrelling, Minister's interventions, jobs for the boys, and the fact that the $8 million Yuin Theatre in Batemans Bay was also the recipient of a very questionable grant it is little wonder that the official opening of the controversial Observation Point by the Deputy Premier has been put off until well after the State election.