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Four candidates unite to oppose Kariong development

From left: Aunty Colleen Fuller, Lisa Bellamy, William Bourke and Emily McCallum

March 20, 2023

Four candidates in Saturday’s State election have joined forces to urge the State Government to protect Kariong Sacred Lands from a proposed housing development by Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (DLALC). Emily McCallum (Animal Justice Party (AJP) candidate for Gosford), William Bourke (Sustainable Australia Party (SAP) Upper House candidate) and Independent candidates Lisa Bellamy (Gosford) and Colleen Fuller (Upper House) say if Local Aboriginal Land Councils across NSW are given the green light to rezone and develop highly ecologically and culturally sensitive bushland, the impacts will be “disastrous and permanent”. “This part of Kariong is registered as an Area of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS) and is full of rare, threatened and endangered species such as the Red Crowned Toadlet, the Giant Burrowing Frog and the Eastern Pigmy possum, the smallest possum species in the world,” McCallum said. “These animals rely on the endangered wetlands at Kariong Sacred Lands for their very existence. “AJP will continue to support the local community, including Traditional Custodians, to provide a voice for our most vulnerable wildlife.” Bellamy said the community had been lobbying the Government for years on the issue. “The proposed development has caused great division, distress and conflict in our community and we really need leadership here,” she said. “To date we have received no meaningful action from our elected representative. “Kariong Sacred Lands is zoned E2 – Environmental Conservation – the Government themselves zoned it so it couldn’t be developed. “Apart from the environmental reasons, allowing a private land developer to claim, rezone and develop highly sensitive bushland could set a precedent that has far-reaching implications for the environment across the state. “With the added stress on local infrastructure, I’m of the opinion that developments like this have the potential to lower the value of local properties.” Bourke, who is the lead candidate for the SAP NSW Upper House ticket, said the party promoted sustainable development rather than “exploiting some of our most precious local bushland”. “My number one goal is to protect our environment, so we need to stop over-development,” he said. “The Central Coast SAP candidates fully appreciate the need for affordable housing and advocate for that, but there are other places on the Central Coast where such development would be much more suitable and welcomed by locals.” Bourke said DLALC should be “treated fairly and equitably” and that all stakeholders, including Traditional Custodians, should be given “every opportunity to explore all options to find a resolution that suits everyone”. Fuller said if the Government allowed Land Councils to claim land due to its cultural and ecological significance, then bulldoze it for profit against the wishes of the Traditional Bloodline Custodians, it was one of “the single biggest threats to our environment that our state has ever faced”. “As an Aboriginal woman with ancestral ties to the Central Coast, it’s at the core of my culture to care for Country and community,” she said. “Seeing these other candidates join forces to support looking after our Sacred Lands gives me hope that other First Nations people will be supported when their precious local bushland is under threat.” The group also cited concerns around further congestion on an “already stressed” Woy Woy Rd, a known fire risk in the area, the removal of endangered wetlands and an overflow of pollution into the surrounding national park as reasons why the proposed development shouldn’t go ahead.

Source: Central Coast News Media release, Mar 20 Lisa Bellamy, Independent Candidate for Gosford

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