NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean deflected questions about Stockton's unfolding erosion crisis to the Minister for Local Government while on a visit to Newcastle on Friday.
Mr Kean toured Hunter Wetlands Centre with Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery and met Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, residents and Lake Macquarie City Council staff to discuss Boolaroo lead contamination.
But Mr Kean had not been briefed about Stockton's problems and had not seen the front page of Friday's Newcastle Herald illustrating the urgency of the situation.
"I'm in the hands of the local members ... and, if that's on the agenda, then I'm very keen to see it," Mr Kean said when asked if he would make time to visit Stockton.
Several phone calls later he told the media he would honour his commitment to spend the afternoon discussing Boolaroo contamination and would not have time to see Stockton's disappearing beach first-hand.
Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock is responsible for dealing with coastal erosion in NSW under the Coastal Management Act, a point Mr Kean repeated several times during a media interview at the wetlands centre.
"This is a huge challenge, not only for the community of Stockton but right across the coast of NSW," he said.
"We know that sea-level rises are having a detrimental impact not only on our environment but on property across NSW.
"The government, obviously, is working to deal with these issues. The Minister for Local Government is responsible, has carriage for that body of work."
Mr Kean said Ms Hancock was "thinking about these matters daily and looking at developing a program to deal with these matters".
"So the government is focused on dealing with it now but also planning for the future, and the Minister for Local Government will have more to say about that soon ... the situation is only getting worse."
Ms Hancock has told the Newcastle Herald she is waiting on an urgent briefing from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and will visit Stockton soon.
Parliament is sitting next week, but it is understood the minister could arrive the following week.
Erosion issues at Stockton have escalated in recent weeks after the permanent closure of the suburb's only childcare centre and the loss of 2.5 metres of beach during heavy seas.
Destructive waves are now within several metres of roads, houses, the surf club, caravan park and a popular beachfront cafe.
Locals described this week's events as the most severe erosion they had seen in 20 years.
Stockton Surf Life Saving Club president Callan Nickerson said the beach was "totally unusable", "broken" and had "state government finger prints all over it".
Successive studies dating back to the 1970s have outlined the need for a long-term solution to the continuing erosion of sand, but no decision has been made on how to save the beach.
- Watch the video: Relentless erosion closes Stockton beach
- Erosion wipes out Stockton's only childcare centre
- Community meeting told Stockton beach losing a metre a year
- Mission Australia's storm damaged Stockton early learning centre
- Childcare centre's future under cloud in erosion saga
- Childcare centre forced to close temporarily due to beach erosion threat
- Council back to drawing board over long-term solution for Stockton erosion
- Playground of Stockton's Mission Australia early learning centre set to be relocated as a result of erosion threat
- Fears childcare centre could crumble into the sea
- Stockton solution moves forward with meeting
- Garbage tip washing into the sea at Stockton
- State government handballs responsibility for Stockton beach
- 2017: Exposed mine shaft shows Stockton beach's erosion problem needs 'urgent' solution
- 2016: Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes suggests 'underground breakwall'
- 2016: Worst erosion in memory leaves Stockton beach exposed to next storm
- 2014: Dangerous erosion on Stockton Beach
- 2013: Stockton beach erosion | photos, video
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