Thursday, 26 May 2016

Community Calls to Save Mambo Wetlands

BY GARY LYSAGHT

The Port Stephens community has continued to fight the planned sale of the Mambo Wetlands by the Department of Education.

A 'for sale' sign appeared on the grounds on May 6th, with the local Mambo Wanda Wetlands Landcare committee saying the weren't given a heads up beforehand.

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington has firmly opposed the Baird Government's planned sale of the property, saying it is vitally important it doesn't enter private hands.


FOR SALE: Wetlands to be sold [Photo: TRRA]
"There's enormous cultural significance for the local Worimi.  [And] ecologically, it is part of this complex ecosystem that forms [the Wetlands]," she said.

Local residents had the opportunity to have their say on Thursday 26th May with a local forum held at Horizons Golf Resort at Salamander Bay.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and Environment Minister Mark Speakman were both invited to attend the forum, with letters and email from Washington's office going unanswered.

The Wetlands' sale sign
[Source: Port Stephens Examiner]
A key concern for local residents is the local koala population which call the Wetlands home.

"We just simply can't afford it, for the sake of the koalas and all the other threatened species that live within that parcel of land," says Washington

"We need to, as a community, have a really strong voice and let the Government know that we do not want this land placed into private hands," she said.

The sale of the Wetlands would be another asset the Baird Government have sold off since the 2015 election, with up to $3 billion of public assets being sold as of 2016 since the Coalition victory in 2011.

Sold assets include Bligh House for $58 million and the Australian Technology Park for $263 million.

Money raised from the sale of buildings considered to be old or misused will be redirected to constructing new infrastructure and housing.

The State Opposition have been critical of the recent litany of public assets the Government have sold into private hands with Shadow Finance Minister Clayton Barr saying Premier Mike Baird was "addicted to the sugar hit" of selling off assets.

"Whether it is electricity assets or Government property, they are happy to accept the short-term gain and ignore the long-term pain," he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Light Rail Threatens Civic Park

It's feared part of Civic Park will be lost when Newcastle's light rail is built.

Council says King Street will need to be widened, eating into the northern edge of the park to cater for a predicted 60 per cent increase in traffic.

It's because fewer cars are expected a block away in Hunter Street where the light rail will run.

Bat Colony Set Alight Again at East Cessnock

Firefighters have again been called to a blaze burning near the bat colony at East Cessnock.

A section of bush 10 by 20 metres went up in flames near the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road at about 2.30 this morning.

Police say it's the second deliberately lit fire in the area in less than a week, with firefighters putting out a blaze in the same spot last Saturday.

It's believed someone is trying to destroy the bat's habitat amid widespread community concern about the noise and smell of the protected flying foxes.

The state government last week provided $10,000 to Cessnock Council to help with moves to relocate the bat colony.

It's hoped the Hunter will get a share in a further $1,000,000 being made available statewide to deal with other flying fox colonies across the region.

Julie Bishop Hits The Campaign Trail In East Maitland

Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop copped a serve from an elderly woman during a walk through Greenhills Shopping Centre at East Maitland this morning.

The deputy Liberal leader is in the seat of Paterson today in a bid to boost the chances of the party's candidate, Karen Howard at the July 2 federal election.

On the whole, Julie Bishop was well received as she chatted with shoppers while introducing Karen Howard, with some asking for a photo to be taken.

However, one 82-year-old woman was less than impressed - here's what she said to Julie Bishop:

video


Julie Bishop introduces Liberal candidate Karen Howard to a cafe customer at Greenhills this morning

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Big Swell On The Way Out

The massive southerly swell which has been been pounding the Hunter's coastline is set to peak today.

Perfect waves between 6 and 8 feet are expected especially at Merewether Beach.

However, the ideal conditions won't last, with the swell starting to back off tomorrow.

Hunter Coast Council? No Thanks!

Newcastle councillors have voted to keep the city's name if a forced merger with Port Stephens goes ahead.

The government-appointed delegate has recommended the new council be called Hunter Coast, however the majority of councillors don't like it.

Instead they think it should be named the City of Newcastle or the City of Greater Newcastle.

Liberal Councillor, BRAD LUKE spoke against the motion, arguing councils such as Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie were not named after specific cities or towns and a name like Hunter Coast was a more collaborative approach.

Domestic Violence Victims Refered to City Pub For Emergency Accomodation

It's been revealed women fleeing domestic violence were being offered emergency accommodation at a Newcastle hotel where male boarders out on parole are also staying.

It's reported one woman who rang an emergency hotline in March was referred to the Silk Hotel as a last resort because all the women's refuges in the city were full.

She instead chose to sleep in her car.

After receiving complaints from victims support groups, Family and Community Services no longer refers women and children to the hotel.