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Presentation to Council: Maureen Searson July 27th 2020

Presentation – Mackay Park PSR/020/015

Ordinarily Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre would have overwhelming public support and anticipation at its opening, since it has been planned for over many years and particularly after the recent bushfires and the ongoing situation with COVID-19. In his report Planning and Sustainability Director Lindsay Usher says this project will provide social benefits “the project will bring a range of long-lasting health, social and economic benefits to the community and our Shire” with the outcome a “diverse and vibrant economy.” The report does not say what the long lasting health, social and economic benefits will be and how the outcome for the shire will be a diverse and vibrant economy.

The project you are voting on today has problems with the design and capacity of some of the facilities, issues of due diligence and failures of transparency.

For example on design and capacity -

 the learn to swim pool - the most profitable facility in the aquatic centre - is outside industry standards due to its depth and will likely pose challenges to learn to swim teachers and parents joining their children in the water

 there is no heated outdoor Olympic sized pool creating a lost opportunity to maximize the day to day activities of local pool users and a lost opportunity maximum usage. An indoor 25 metre pool and an outdoor heated Olympic pool will maximize local use and attract regional swimming carnivals

 the arts space has less seating capacity and floor space than the industry says is viable. The Otium Business Case says the arts facility will be a financial liability costing $300,000 yearly from the day it opens.

 the kitchen space is not like for like with the Batemans Bay Community Centre so will not

support an important Eurobodalla food service because it will not have space for an industrial freezer required by that service

On due diligence and transparency –

According to Council’s published minutes at the Sunset Committee meeting on the 28 th September 2018 the issue of Native Title and Aboriginal Land Title Claims was raised. The Minutes show that Council had sought legal advice to assess its position on the land at MacKay Park. On the basis of legal advice Council has written to the relevant Aboriginal Lands Council requesting they withdraw their claims of the land and MacKay Park. This is a work in progress and is expected to continue for some time.

Mayor Innes what is the status of the Aboriginal Lands Council Native Title claim over Mackay Park? Where is this matter up to? The public has a right to know.

In addition to Council’s failure to engage pool stakeholders at Level 4 of their own Community Engagement Framework because of the removal and non inclusion of an Olympic sized pool, Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre is tainted with the Berejiklian government’s 2019 election pork barrel of Coalition held seats. An ABC investigation found that although placed 72 by independent assessors on a list of over 100 projects Eurobodalla Council received $8 million in arts funding, announced by Mayor Liz Innes 6 months before the 2 nd round of funding was open. The project placed number 1 by independent assessors - the Bega Valley Regional Arts Gallery - missed out on the $3 million they had applied for. The business case that Mayor Liz Innes has repeatedly claimed is “great” and the reason for $8 million of arts funding, has still not been made public despite requests for nearly 3


If Council is going to sell or lease the Batemans Bay Community Centre against public wishes and sell treasured green space like Pretty Point at Malua Bay to pay for the ‘confidential’ funding gap, this Regional Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre should not go ahead.

I support an aquatic arts facility in Batemans Bay but not this facility as it is and under the circumstances with the issues mentioned above.

Where is the evidence that the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre will bring the range of long-lasting health, social and economic benefits to the community and our Shire” with the outcome a “diverse and vibrant economy” quoted in Director Usher’s Report, when Councilors have not sought an independent expert assessment of the ongoing financial liability?

Councilors, if you vote today for the construction contract to be signed on the Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre, you are voting for $70 million of public funds and the sale of the public’s assets, to be spent a project that has not been subject to an expert independent assessment and without the business case being made public. The Batemans Bay Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre should be put on hold for now, to

allow the next council to be advised by an independent expert assessment of the ongoing financial liability and community consultation in line with Council’s Community Engagement Framework.

Maureen Searson

ALP Eurobodalla

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