This speech was made on 18 October 2016 by Kingsford Smith MP (and volunteer Bush Regenerator at MH) Matt Thistlethwaite regarding Malabar Headland and the sneaky 50 year lease of the rifle range:
In May this year the Turnbull coalition government stitched up a secret, dirty backroom deal to lock the community that I represent out of 177 hectares of historically and environmentally significant green space at Malabar headland. Made in the shadows with the crossbench senator and gun enthusiast David Leyonhjelm, the agreement to lease out the central portion of Malabar headland to the New South Wales Rifle Association for the next 50 years has been met with anger, frustration and disbelief in our community.
I have nothing against the New South Wales Rifle Association or any of its members. In fact, they have invited me to some of their events and functions. They are good people and they are dedicated to their sport. But there are now many young families, elderly people and a large number of residents living in the vicinity of Malabar headland, and shooting is no longer consistent with the family environment that lives on the back door of where these shooting activities are taking place.
Having grown up in Maroubra, I have a deep appreciation for the headland and the place that it holds in the hearts of residents, who overwhelmingly want to see the government do what has been promised and find an alternative site for the shooters so that the beautiful and unique headland can be protected from development and returned to the people as public open space.
This is the last remaining tract of native bushland that exists in Sydney between the harbour and Botany Bay. Every other spare spot of native bushland along that coastline has been developed. We must preserve and maintain this historic green space for use and enjoyment by the people of Australia. The former Labor government commenced work to see this goal achieved to preserve the headland. The western portion of the headland was cleaned up at a cost of $2 million and handed back to the New South Wales government to be made a national park. The eastern portion near the ocean was remediated at a cost of $9 million and is now a national park. The central portion requires much more work, given that it was a former waste dump site. Independent reports indicate asbestos and leachate contamination.
Under the coalition government, however, progress towards returning this headland to the people has been slow and is now going backwards. In January this year, it was revealed that the government had commissioned a secret report into development options for the headland, which said that the headland was ‘surplus to requirements’ and would generate ‘significant returns if sold’. Upon release of the report, the member for Maroubra, Michael Daley, and I, with the Friends of Malabar Headland, strongly campaigned against any development on the headland, and, in one day, the environment minister at the time, Greg Hunt, backed down and now claims there will be no such development.
The coalition government had promised at the 2013 election to return the horse riding school that was on the headland back to the headland within six months. It is now over three years and not one horse has returned to the headland. Now the coalition government appears intent on delaying the relocation of the shooters, with Mr Hunt declaring in January this year that they had a ‘long-term future’ on Malabar Headland and that finding the shooters an alternative range could take ‘three, five or 17 years’. The shooting club must be relocated to an alternative premises. Meanwhile, residents are facing an increase in the frequency of shooting activities on the site. The rifle association has been offered a paltry $25,000 per year to lease the site and gain restricted access. The number of days of shooting has increased. Locals have been locked out by security guards from entering the site. We have a national park that no-one can go into on the days that the shooting is occurring because it is a safety risk.
The situation is a direct result of the Turnbull government’s tenuous hold on power, which has led to this joke of a deal being done with Senator Leyonhjelm. It completely ignores the wishes of the community that I represent and locks them out of the headland for 50 years. The government needs to get its act together. It needs to find an alternative site for the shooting club, bring the horses back and provide the local community with safe access to the national park and this headland treasure. It is Labor’s plan to turn this area into a parkland that is open to the people and a national park with walking tracks on the headland. We demand to know when the government will end this farce.
Stephen - local resident said:
A bit of balance please.
It’s still beautiful up there and accessible to all.
You are being highly pessimistic about the situation.
I regularly walk up there and the restriction of Saturday 9am to 5pm places the site off limits for no more than 9 hours most weeks. Hard to see them shooting weekdays that often, only happens a couple of weeks a year currently.
I think the balance is fine.
A large group off the community (the shooters) get to use the area one day of the week…Beyond that the rest of us can wander up there at our leisure.
We should be thankful that it has been a rifle range all these years or it would have been developed long ago.
The fifty year lease guarantees it stays as it is for many more.
Instead of maligning the shooters we should be thankful for them. They have been seeking a lease extension for many years so to call it sneaky is flawed.
And why would they engage with the Friends of Malabar when your views are well known, you would only have attempted to block them. Smart rather than sneaky. All they have ever done is work in the best interests of their members.
It works fine as it is………get up to the headland and watch the sun rise tomorrow that should clear your head and flush out all those negative thoughts. Nothing stopping any one of us doing that even on a shooting Saturday.
The rifle range occupies an enormous percentage of the headland and isn’t accessible at all.
The majority of us work through the week, so can’t wander there “at our leisure”, just on a Sunday.
Whatever the history, it seems a very unbalanced use of such a beautiful and rare space. The shooting could easily be done somewhere else.
Let’s face it, a large dose of pessimism is very appropriate for any undeveloped space in metropolitan Sydney, the unchecked development greed destroying Sydney is plain for all to see.
– This is the last remaining tract of native bushland that exists in Sydney between the harbour and Botany Bay. Every other spare spot of native bushland along that coastline has been developed. –
It’s a matter of when, not if.
Vern, you really are very disingenuous and unmeasured in your comments. Why don’t you throw your energies behind the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s fight to keep the 11 hectare lot of land just north of the Prince Henry (promised never to be sold by a Labor premier) development, out of the mits of Harry Triguboff? You do know that it has been sold to him to be overdeveloped, don’t you? Leave the shooters alone – if it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t have any “rare and endangered” Easturn Suburbs Banksia Scrub now to make your mudpies in.
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Now that we have ridden ourselves from the environmental vandals of the coalition government “climate change is crap”Tony Aboott and Malcolm Turnbull’s back door deals granting an incredible lease 50 year extention to the shooters of Malabar and Scott Morrison’s “this is Coal” statement in Parliament, we now have the state of the environment report 2022 showing our dismal record for managing the land and the rate of deforestation in this country, I ask Matt Thistlewaite to work with Tanya Plibersek and revisit the relocation of the shooters and the extension of Malabar Headland National Park.