NSW Deputy Opposition Leader
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast
Labor Candidate for Gosford
Thursday January 22, 2015
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast Linda Burney has today expressed deep concerns about the Baird Government’s controversial redevelopment of Peat Island and public land adjoining the Hawkesbury River near Mooney Mooney in its current form.
On a visit today to the historic Peat Island site to meet with local residents, Ms Burney – joined by Labor Candidate for Gosford Kathy Smith – said Labor believed the area was a precious environmental and tourism asset of importance to Sydney and the Central Coast. She urged the Government to go back to the drawing board and begin a genuine community consultation process – instead of selling off the area to a big private developer.
Last March, the Baird Government announced its plan to rezone the historic Peat Island and surrounding land at Mooney Mooney to allow for residential and commercial development. The plan includes 450 new dwellings organised in clusters of four and five-storey apartments.
“This is an absolutely beautiful part of Sydney – the scenic gateway to the Central Coast – and here we have the Baird Government galloping ahead to sell this land to private developers,” Ms Burney said.
“The local residents I have met today are unhappy at the Baird Government’s failure to consult with them. However their concern is not so much for their own future but the long-term loss for the people of Gosford and the Central Coast who risk losing a wonderful community asset of historic and Aboriginal heritage significance.
“You wouldn’t drop 450 houses into the middle of the Royal National Park and this development proposal by the Baird Government is almost as craven.
“Labor believes this area should be preserved and enhanced as public space for tourism and recreation purposes, rather than turned into a cash cow for the NSW Government.
“Any development should be handled sensitively and directed towards encouraging public use and opening access to the Hawkesbury River – not impeding it.
“Labor has consulted closely with residents and we cannot support this redevelopment in its current form.”
Peat Island was established as an asylum in the early 1900s before becoming a general psychiatric hospital and then a residential care centre. It is surrounded by the Hawkesbury River and five national parks.
Labor Candidate for Gosford Kathy Smith added: “This is a special place on the doorstep of the Central Coast. Ideally, it should be where people come to relax, reflect and soak up the unique atmosphere and history.
“Mike Baird and his Ministers seem overeager to privatise or develop everything that moves.
“If the Premier can find the time to visit the Coast, I’d be prepared to personally show him around and explain why this beautiful area is best preserved as an asset in the hands of the community.”
MEDIA CONTACT: ALAN MASCARENHAS 0408819025