Friends of Malabar Headland (FoMH) welcomes the handover of the 70 hectare eastern section of the Headland to the state government for the creation of the second part of the Malabar Headland National Park. Our dream for the creation of national parks in the eastern and Western sections of the Headland is about to be realised, and for that we are very grateful. The total park will be 87 hectares, almost exactly half of the total headland.
We look forward to the park being opened to the public in June as proposed by the state government.
However there are many issues to be solved between now and then, especially considering that the park can only be accessed by the public on days when the rifle range is not operating. Issues such as security of the site on shooting days and more secure fencing will need to be addressed.
This will certainly be a unique National Park, not just because of its incredible location, flora/fauna and history, but also because the rifle range has the right to operate 7 days per week if it wishes, which would mean no public access at all in the eastern section!
Presently, the rifle range only operates on Saturdays, but the shooters have indicated that they would like to operate more days per week, with Sunday the preferred day. This would mean no weekend access for the general public.
FoMH have always understood and acknowledged that the existence of the rifle range has enabled the headland to be retained in public hands and, with the help of FoMH bush regenerators, preserved the remnant Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub on the site, and most importantly, not lost the headland to development. We hope that the shooters will work closely with National Parks & Wildlife Service to ensure that public access to the park can be maximised. In that way the park and the rifle range can peacefully co-exist until a new home can be found for the rifle range. This could take up to 17 years according to Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
FoMH are still very concerned about the long term future of the remaining 87 hectares of the headland after the shooters relocate, despite Minister Hunt’s claim last year that the “whole site, all of it, will be retained in public hands forever”. Remember, even Barrangaroo is still in public hands.
All levels of government are facing huge fiscal challenges, and privatisation of public assets is one way to plug the fiscal holes in their budgets. The federal government even offers monetary incentives to the states to privatise public assets in their euphemistically titled Asset Recycling Program. The federal government has already looked into development options, and the rifle range site is estimated to be worth some billions of dollars. Cash strapped governments of all persuasions may be tempted to recycle this asset.
FoMHs vision for the other half of Malabar Headland after the shooters relocate, has always been to keep it as public open space, to be used by a large number of groups including horse riding clubs, model airplane clubs and the general public for active and passive recreation.
Our dream of the Malabar Headland National Park is near to fruition, but FoMH will continue to work towards our ultimate dream of saving the entire Malabar Headland for public recreation. As population densities in Sydney increases, the need for this open space also increases. Once it is developed it will be lost forever.
Please join us and help us achieve this dream.