MEDIA RELEASE - Petty politics at play with Minns Labor Government set to pull funding for Hungry Point clifftop walkway
Sutherland Shire Council Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, has slammed the Minns Labor Government amid moves to strip state government funding committed to an iconic active transport project which would have improved community access to one of the most scenic slices of the Port Hacking foreshore.
The much-anticipated Hungry Point clifftop walkway, which was set to provide a continuous waterfront pedestrian pathway around the South Cronulla peninsula, had been fully funded by the former state Liberal Government, with work on the project due to commence before the end of the year.
If completed as planned, the project would deliver a walkway between Salmon Haul Bay and Darook Park, opening up the spectacular Hungry Point to community access.
However the project is now in jeopardy, with recent discussions between Crown Lands representatives and Council suggesting that a significant portion of the state government funding committed to the project is set to be pulled.
Mayor Pesce expressed his outrage at moves to snatch back state government funds already committed to the project, saying should the Minns Labor Government only commit to funding the portion of the walkway between Salmon Haul Bay and the southern tip of Hungry Point it would be a shocking result for the Sutherland Shire.
“The Hungry Point Reserve Land Manager had done an incredible job in harnessing community support for this project, working with Council to develop plans and advocating for funding which would have delivered an amazing community asset,” Mayor Pesce said.
“The completed Hungry Point clifftop walkway would have opened up this scenic sweep of the Port Hacking foreshore to pedestrian access, and would have rivalled any of the great coastal walks you’d find anywhere in Sydney.
“It defies common sense to pull funding for this project mere months out from the start of construction when local residents are clamouring for this beautiful part of the South Cronulla peninsula to finally be unlocked for community access.
“I’m calling on Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper to come down here and meet with local residents who will be outraged to hear that this project may now be cut as part of a cynical cash-grab from the state Labor government.
“We are also hearing that the government is planning to dissolve the Hungry Point Reserve Land Manager board, a body made up of dedicated community volunteers who have championed this project from day one.
“Premier Minns and Minister Kamper need to set the record straight and confirm that this isn’t the case – it would be an extra slap in the face to the hard-working volunteers who have not only effectively managed crown lands on Hungry Point but also delivered a visionary plan to make it more accessible to our community.”
Mayor Pesce called into question the motivations for pulling funding for the project, saying that withdrawing funding for a project in a safe Liberal electorate stood in stark contrast to the taxpayer funding that was put towards projects in seats either held or targeted by the Labor Party in the lead up to this year’s state election.
“Chris Minns and his Labor cronies could find millions of taxpayer dollars to tip into any and every project that was going to prop up their chances of securing victory at the March state election as part of their Local Small Commitments Allocation program – a $37.2m funding program that Coalition and cross-bench MPs were deliberately kept in the dark about,” Mayor Pesce said.
“In the same week that the Minns Labor Government is rightfully being held to account for a sneaky pre-election pork-barrelling scheme, it adds insult to injury that they are now set to strip funds from such a vital project in a safely Liberal held electorate.
“Rather than penny-pinching in Macquarie Street, Premier Minns and Minister Kamper need to cross Tom Uglys Bridge, come down here and actually speak to people to hear their concerns on the impact this decision will have on the future of this project. And when they come, they’d better come with their chequebooks open.”