Its been revealed an expert council tasked with advising the state government on coastal erosion has not had its first meeting, more than 18 months after legislation for its creation cleared State Parliament.
It comes as the Newcastle Herald revealed a Mission Australia childcare centre on Stockton Beach is on the verge of slipping into the ocean, after a powerful swell gouged the shoreline over several days.
The centre, which is owned by Newcastle council, was closed on Friday morning as inspections were carried out around its perimeter. The centre is set to remain closed on Monday.
The general manager of Mission Australia Early Learning, Ben Williams, said the company was monitoring the situation.
Our first responsibility is to ensure the safety of children in our care, their families and our staff, he said.
We made the decision to temporarily close Mission Australia Early Learning Stockton this Friday and Monday based on the significant erosion impacts that large seas have had near our centre over the last 24 hours.
We have made the decision to remain closed on Monday 22nd January due to the current weather predictions for Monday that indicate further high tides and large swells are expected.
We informed families of the decision to temporarily close on Monday this afternoon and will continue to monitor the situation.
Next week, we will reassess the situation and opening arrangements.
The strong swell has also uncovered World War Two-era tank traps along Stockton Beach.
A statement from Newcastle City Council said beachgoers should beware of more than 20 concrete traps that have been uncovered along a 300m stretch between the Mission Australia Early Learning Centre and Corroba Oval to the north.
The traps may not be visible above the waterline at high tide, the statement read.
The public is asked to stay away from the foreshore around the Mitchell St seawall because it has been left unstable north of Barrie Cr. A long ledge created by the erosion has been fenced off with hessian.
Signage will soon be in place warning of submerged hazards, and access paths to the beach will be closed due to safety risks.
In 2016, the state government announced a seven-person panel would be formed to give expert advice to the minister on coastal management, as part of the most significant reforms since the 1970s.
Positions on the Coastal Council were advertised at a rate of $55,000 for the chairperson and $30,000 for members, on a pro-rata basis.
The Coastal Council will meet in Sydney as required, expected to be 6-8 times in the first year, the advertisement said.
Appointments to the Coastal Council are paid positions for an initial 18 month to 3 year term.
According to Port Stephens MP Kate Washington, while legislation was passed for the creation of the council in May 2016, no one had been appointed to the role as of mid-2017.
By September, a member had listed their appointment on their LinkedIn page, Ms Washington said.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald announced the final membership on November 8, but according to Labor, the council is still yet to have a meeting.
The government made a big announcement in 2016, but this issue has fallen off their radar, she said.
Currently, councils are filling the gaps but long-term solutions cost millions and are outside the budget of most councils.
The Premier needs to step in and get coastal erosion back on the governments agenda.
Ms Washington added that while consultation on a draft State Environmental Planning Policy for coastal management had closed in January 2017, 12 months later no final draft had been released.
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