Friends of Malabar Headland now also has a facebook site, which has more up-to-date information than this web site, and is used to update members and the public on what is happening with Malabar Headland in a timely fashion. Have a look here. We hope you LIKE it. You can also access the Facebook site by scrolling through the Links at the left of this page and clicking on the Friends of Malabar Headland Facebook Site.
Greg Hunt the Federal Environment Minister and Rob Stokes, the NSW Environment Minister held a press conference at the Randwick Golf Club at Malabar on Thursday 18 March (Malabar Headland in the background) to announce that the Eastern Bush would be made into a National Park.
Representatives of the horse riding community were present. However the Friends of Malabar Headland, who have worked tirelessly for 14 years to protect the Eastern Bush from both human development and invasive weeds, were not invited.
Leesha McKenny then wrote an article for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Friends of Malabar Headland Chairperson David Pyett issued a statement in response to the announcement:
We cautiously welcome the latest announcement, but we remain skeptical until we see documented proof of a commitment of money in the budget to build a new Shooting Range elsewhere and to move the shooters to their new site. Nothing will happen to the Eastern Bush until the shooters have gone, as the Eastern Bush forms part of the Safety Template for the Shooting Range. That means that it will not become a National Park any time soon; Greg Hunt is fully aware of this fact.
At the moment, the Shooters have a licence to shoot at any time, seven days per week, between 9am and 5pm. The Commonwealth – landowner of Malabar Headland – have repeatedly told us that the Eastern Section of bush cannot be handed over as National Park until the Shooters have moved; indeed they have banned our group from weeding in the Eastern bush on days when there is no shooting, as per our previous arrangement for 14 years.
We were not invited to attend this morning’s announcement.
Note: On a target shooting range, the safety template is the area behind and adjacent to the targets that stray or ricocheting bullets might enter. When the range is in use, no one can safely enter the safety template.
At Malabar Headland, the operational range is the long, full bore range on the northern side of the site. The safety template of this range extends east, north and south of the targets. It includes the scenic walking track along the coast from South Maroubra to Magic Point and the beautiful bushland to the west of the track – that is, some of the finest bushland and most magnificent scenery in the proposed national park land.
Friends of Malabar Headland are mourning the loss of Brian Vazey, a founding member and pioneer of bush regeneration on the headland.
Brian passed away last Thursday, 12 March 2015. He was an active bushcare worker on the headland for many years and was also active in the campaign for upgrading Mahon Pool at Maroubra.
Our sympathies are with his wife and fellow activist Margaret, their three children Robyn, John and Megan and their families.
Vale, Brian Vazey
Friends of Malabar Headland
FoMH warmly congratulates our former long-serving Chairman on his award for services to conservation of Malabar Headland. Peter, an environmental scientist, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Australia Day Honours.
Peter commented: “The headland is like a rare jewel, it has such a large bushland area, right next to suburban areas, near the beach, it’s visually stunning.”
“If our group wasn’t around, the western site would have been developed by now and possibly the rifle range area as well. Friends of Malabar Headland has always been there to protect the headland’s natural and cultural heritage values.”
FoMH welcomes the recent media announcement by the Minister for the Environment, Hon. Greg Hunt MP on behalf of the PM and Federal Government, regarding Malabar Headland. His enthusiastic support for, and emphatic commitment to retain the entire Malabar Headland site in public hands forever and that there would be no development on the site, was a great relief to us, and to many, many people locally and throughout Sydney and beyond. You can view one of Minister Hunt’s interviews in the previous post below.
There are however, a number of questions and areas of uncertainty that need to be resolved. Some have been raised in the previous post, and here are a few more:-
Do we need a Malabar Headland Protection Bill passed by federal parliament that enshrines this permanent protection?
Remember the “never-ever GST” or “no carbon tax” or “no cuts to health, education, pensions”, etc: promises by successive federal governments which didn’t happen. People are rightly sceptical of these type of promises.
Whilst no-one would dispute Minister Hunt’s unequivocal support for saving the Headland, is that really enough to save it? A permanent protection bill similar to that proposed in 2012 would protect it in perpetuity. See our May 2012 Post here.
Just some weeks ago NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm announced an agreement that would allow the NSW Rifle Association to relocate from ANZAC rifle range to an upgraded, world class facility near Fairfield. He stated that he received a written agreement from Finance Minister Mathias Cormann that the Commonwealth will fund a $15 million upgrade of shooting facilities, thereby freeing up Malabar Headland.
Can the Commonwealth confirm that this relocation will take place and provide a timeline for it to occur?
FoMH’s long-held vision is for the relocation of the rifle range to a suitable facility within Sydney basin, allowing the opening up of this land as public open space and national park. You can view our vision in our 2002 draft Community Plan of Management for Malabar Headland here.
The Department of Finance consultant (Coffey) report makes it clear that for full remediation to take place on Malabar Headland, the shooters first need to be relocated. Other potential users of the site (and former users such as Equestrian and Model Planes) are barred until the site is remediated.
Is there a budget and timetable for remediation?
At present, and despite Minister Hunt’s statements, the reality is that only about 17 hectares (or just 10%) of the total site is permanently protected, being the western bushland now the Malabar Headland National Park. For decades we have heard many ministers and MPs from all the major parties professing their support for saving the entire headland. It appears that the shooters can soon be relocated and therefore remediation can begin in earnest. Now is the time for all of us to work together to ensure this actually happens, to allow the site to be permanently saved, remediated, accessed and used by the community as they have been promised for many years.
Leesha McKenny, Sydney Morning Herald Urban Affairs Reporter has done outstanding investigative work over the last four months. She has assiduously followed up the suspicions of Friends of Malabar Headland members and others in the community that the Liberal Government wanted to sell a large part of Malabar Headland for residential and commercial development.
Leesha’s first article (Appointment fuels development fears for the Malabar Headland – 3 October 2014) revealed that a “project development and environmental consultant”, Nation Partners, had been appointed to advise the Department of Finance on the headland’s strategic potential:
From statements Nation Partners published on their public website, it was apparent that their brief included assessment of the potential of the headland to be sold to property developers for residential and commercial development.
Leesha followed up on 6/12/2014 with a further article – Sporting shooters have new HQ in their sights, freeing up Malabar headland:
Since then, Leesha has used a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to obtain the report, preparation of which had passed from Nation Partners to a larger consultancy (Coffey). Coffey’s report states that the Commonwealth-owned land is “surplus to requirements” and would generate a “significant return” if sold:
There has been a strongly negative reaction to the conclusions of this report in Randwick City, throughout the densely populated Eastern Suburbs and elsewhere in Sydney. Greens, Labor and independent representatives at local, state and federal levels of government have all publicly articulated the community’s response. For example, the Acting Mayor of Randwick City today issued a strongly worded statement that expresses community sentiment on this issue:
In response, Liberal Government’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt has spoken to the media and stated that Malabar Headland “won’t be sold, it will be kept in public hands in perpetuity”. Video of and extracts from Greg Hunt’s statement are included in Leesha’s updated article – Malabar headland: Abbott government rules out landsale, also published today:
Superficially, one might conclude that the Liberal Government has mismanaged the planning for the future of Malabar Headland, allowing an expensive consultant’s report to be prepared that offers advice that is contrary to its own policies and is therefore worthless.
The reality is otherwise. The Environment Minister is aware of the environmental values of the headland and its importance to Randwick City, the Eastern Suburbs and Sydney. He knows that he has no choice but to advocate for its preservation as public open space.
However the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann (Western Australia) and his assistant, Parliamentary Secretary Michael McCormack (National Party, representing the Riverina electorate), who are far more influential in the Liberal Government than Greg Hunt, have ambitions to sell many Commonwealth assets to private commercial interests. There is no doubt that Malabar Headland has been on their list.
We believe it remains there, and urge the community to be vigilant, and express its wishes forthrightly if it is to save what Labor Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite has described as “the sacred green shoulder of Maroubra beach, the last remaining tract of native bushland between the harbour and Botany Bay”.
We are currently adding the documents released under FOI, other documents and information and some commentary to our Future of the headland page.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has released a Statement of Management Intent that outlines the main values, issues, management directions and priorities of the NPWS for managing Malabar Headland National Park.
This statement, together with relevant NPWS policies, will guide the management of the park until a plan of management has been prepared in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act).
The statement contains a great deal of information about the park. It is an excellent summary of the park’s main features and values and the issues that need to be addressed to protect it and ensure it can best be appreciated by the community.
For parks and reserves currently without a plan of management (exhibited draft or adopted), a statement of management intent gives information about the basic management principles and priorities in the period before a plan of management is developed.
Statements of Management Intent for all NSW parks and reserves currently without a plan of management are available on the NPWS web site.
Paddy Manning, local resident and journalist (business editor for Crikey, writing on business, energy and environmental issues) has written a well-researched and thorough article on the future of Malabar Headland:
For his June 10 article, Paddy talked to David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrat Senator-elect for NSW, about his stated determination to secure tenure at Malabar Headland for the NSW Rifle Association.
Paddy recorded video interviews with a number of people and the article includes a link to an edited video (6 mins 41 secs) of these interviews. The video is well worth watching for his interviews with:
- Peter Garrett, former Federal MP for Kingsford-Smith
- John Fitzgerald, the President of the NSW Rifle Association
- Donna Wright from the South East Equestrian Association
- Don Kerr, founding member of and spokesperson for Friends of Malabar Headland and bush regeneration team leader
- Donna Negus, a competitive shooter who has been training and competing at the Headland for many years
- local residents
Link to the Youtube Video embedded in the article:
Crikey is an independent news website featuring commentary on politics, media, business, culture and technology. Its well known contributors include politics editor Bernard Keane and business editor Paddy Manning.
On Australia Day 2014, long-term Friends of Malabar Headland member Margaret Vazey received a Randwick City Council’s Australia Day Community Service Award.
The citation read:
Margaret is an extraordinary community volunteer who gives her time generously to art and the environment. She has been a volunteer oil painting teacher at the Coast Centre for Seniors for over 10 years and played a key role in annual art exhibitions and special projects. Margaret is also a dedicated member of the Friends of Malabar Headland and has been an active bushland regenerator for over 20 years, employing her love of native flora to inspire her artwork and to teach and impart her love of native vegetation to her students. Her nomination recognises her lifelong dedication to public issues and the generosity with which she has given her time as a volunteer in the community.
Congratulations Margaret on this well deserved honour.
For more on the awards, click here.
The South Maroubra Village Green Art Show is on this weekend – Friday 8th to Sunday 10 November at South Maroubra Shopping Village, located at the corner of Malabar Road and Meagher Avenue.
Come along to view excellent local art and photography including a Malabar Headland section that Friends of Malabar Headland sponsors annually with a prize.
FoMH members will be there with their stall featuring native plants for sale and information about the headland.
Please drop by for a chat and support FoMH by purchasing some native plants from the stall or signing one of the letters that will be available for you to post to your members of state and federal parliament.
The letters are intended to remind our elected representatives that making the remaining Commonwealth owned areas of the headland into national park and a community park is something Eastern Suburbs locals really care about.