A community meeting at Ettalong Diggers Memorial Club on Tuesday, September 18, attracted 325 residents for an update on the status of the channel and their ferry service.
However, they were disappointed. “It became abundantly clear that there is very little information available about the current state of play,” said Diggers chief Mr Bill Jackson, who chaired the meeting. The meeting was attended by councillors Chris Holstein, Richard Mehrtens, Rebecca Gale Collins, Bruce McLachlan and Jeff Sundstrom. “There were a lot of concerned residents,” said Mr Jackson. “They were concerned that they were not being kept up to date with what was happening with the emergency dredging, with planning for the future. “In fact, nobody was able to keep them up to date with anything and that included any one of the five councillors we had at the meeting. “They were as much in the dark as we were.
“There was a question asked by one of the members of the audience as to whether anyone had seen a copy of the works program. “Nobody, not even the councillors, had seen anything to do with it.” “There had been an announcement that there was new funding to dredge the channel but, once you read into it, it was nothing to do with being new but approval of the funding Council had already applied for. “It was just another photo opportunity for the politicians,” Mr Jackson said. The gathering resolved to have another meeting at a time when the NSW Parliament was not sitting, so Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch and Member for Terrigal Mr Adam Crouch would be able to attend.
The meeting also resolved to call on Council and the NSW Government to work collaboratively to create a sustainable long-term plan for access to Brisbane Water from Broken Bay, and beachfront preservation for the beaches fronting Broken Bay and Ettalong Channel, informed by professional hydrographic analysis. They called for the local and State governments to devise a clear scope of works for immediate project delivery and longer-term maintenance to support this plan. The meeting demanded Council and the NSW Government “provide a secure basis for funding the near and longer-term program of works to maintain waterway access and beachfront in the target area, engage service providers capable of executing the works efficiently, monitor progress professionally, and communicate progress throughout”.
It called for the establishment of a steering group or stakeholder forum to communicate plans, actions and results and receive feedback accordingly. Suggestions made at the meeting included a proposal to run a shuttle bus service between Ettalong and Patonga to assist commuters who relied on the ferry service. Mr Jackson said he would work through local parliamentarians for ways to improve the bus service connecting Patonga. He thanked the councillors who attended the meeting.
SOURCE: Media statement, 19 Sep 2018 Interview, 19 Sep 2018 Bill Jackson, Ettalong Diggers Reporter: Jackie Pearson