Private Members Statement Corrimal Beach Erosion

Mr RYAN PARK (Keira) [12.15 p.m.]: I inform the House of a very important issue in my electorate concerning Corrimal Beach, which over the past 12 months has lost an enormous part of its beach area owing to dune erosion issues. Corrimal Beach is home to several hundred junior lifesaving club members, about 300 of whom registered over the past few weeks. Last week I met on site with council representatives, the President of Corrimal Surf Life Saving Club, Tony Cartwright, and members of the club to assess the situation and to see what can be done.

Members who are fortunate enough to have an electorate that borders the beautiful Tasman Sea of the Illawarra coast, and the member for Wollongong is one of them, know that we are very fortunate but that the area presents its own challenges.

One of the current challenges faced by the club and the local council is that vegetation that was planted in good faith has caused huge problems, including scarping and the removal of sand from the beach area. The council is slowly addressing the issue, but the issue needs to be addressed more rapidly. The State Government should assist the council to improve the dunes of beaches across the Illawarra. Unfortunately, at this stage Corrimal Beach is low on the list of priorities for Wollongong City Council's rollout. I hope that the council will rethink the issue and that Corrimal Beach will be given a higher priority. The large numbers of people involved in the local club do not want to see the beach completely eradicated with only grassed areas available for beach safety activities.

The council has commenced work at Woonona Beach in my electorate to remove vegetation from the dunes. I have written to the Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water and the Minister for the Environment seeking approval for volunteers and members of Corrimal surf club to do some of the required work.

I know this is a sensitive area but those people know the area better than anyone else. They do not want to destroy the vegetation; they want to reclaim the sand and restore the beach to its natural beauty. I have asked the Government to consider my requests, on behalf of Corrimal Surf Life Saving Club, to fast-track approvals for this very important work.

If this work is not undertaken quickly, very soon Corrimal Beach will be a small strip of sand. That is not good enough for a community that relies heavily on the beach as a tourist and economic driver and as a place to cool down in the summer months, protected by the wonderful work that our surf lifesavers do each and every day. It is also a safe place for young children to visit. I believe I speak on behalf of many of the elected representatives who represent coastal electorates.

This is a challenging issue, one we should address by thinking outside the box. I am aware that unlimited funds are not available. That is why I put forward as a solution to fast-track the work of legitimate volunteers, who have the skills and equipment necessary and are ready to do some of the works that are required, by ensuring that the approval process is not overly cumbersome, costly and time-consuming. In this way, they will be able to complete this important work and restore our beaches, such as Corrimal, to their former glory.

I congratulate each and every member of Corrimal Surf Life Saving Club, in particular President Tony Cartwright, and thank them for bringing this important issue to my attention.