NSW Surfers applaud Minister’s decision for Reflections to be relieved of their “Trust” role at Killalea State Park and National Surfing Reserve.
Less than a week after a World Record Paddle Out by south coast surfers protesting a proposed development at an important National Surfing Reserve, senior NSW cabinet Minister and Kiama MP Gareth Ward has responded in favour of the mass outcry to finally ‘Save the Farm’.
Mr Ward admitted the ‘consultation process was abysmal’ in a statement on Thursday saying ‘The Farm’ at Killalea State Park must be now handed over to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to protect it in perpetuity.
The Farm has more than 265 hectares of open green space amid dense urbanisation, fronting one of the states favourite surfing and recreational beaches. The region of open space has unique ecology and high cultural value to beach goers. In the early ’80s Illawarra County Council transferred a small parcel to the Crown and the State Park was declared in 1984.
Chris Homer, Chair of the Killalea National Surfing Reserve who led the tide turning campaign said “The ever- increasing strength and conviction of the surfing community coupled with the passion of the wider public standing together was a clear display that the people have spoken and are to be heard”.
He added “This stunning and welcomed turnaround announcement from Gareth Ward MP who originally announced the grant funding for the Reflections development proposal, is nothing short of a win for the people of NSW and the greater good”.
While the mass protest by surfers of all ages made world headlines last week, the NSW Government remained silent and refused to meet with rally organisers and advocates. The Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP (ALP) raised the matter in Parliament on Tuesday seeking a solution from the Berejiklian government to put ‘people before profit’.
“This issue has questioned the public’s role in decision making of Crown Lands in NSW,” said Brad Farmer AM, founder of Surfrider Foundation Australia and National Surfing Reserves. “NSW needs to go back to the drawing board on its coastal zone management strategy and planning, as its integrity and status of the premier tourism state for its coastline goes largely unchecked.”
“Public land is not to be set up for the private sector business model of revenue and profit”.
“I welcome the NSW Government’s announcement that NSW Crown Land is indeed public land. It is the public who must decide how it is to be governed to avoid further attempts to commercialise them, as was the stealth by which the state government-endorsed Reflections Trust Managers intended to develop at Killalea State Park and National Surfing Reserve”.
‘The Farm’ is only one of nine National Surfing Reserves in NSW, recognising iconic sites of intrinsic cultural, environmental, and social value. The limited number of reserves come under the Crown Lands Act (1989) and according to Mr Farmer represent a set-in-stone community contract between the government and coastal users of New South Wales.
While other National Surfing Reserves like Bondi Beach, Lennox Head and Crescent Head remain under threat from commercialisation, it has been Killalea which now sets the standard expected of the government.
“NO means NO at Killalea and my hope is for this precedent to give strength to other communities under threat”, Mr Homer concluded.