AS much as we might sometimes wish otherwise, the loss of the Stockton beachfront is as much a political issue as it is an environmental one.
Thanks to the rules and regulations attached to government programs, political parties have access to a structure that can be navigated to help themselves - as shown by the colour-coded calculations used by the Morrison government in its "sports rorts" affair - or to fall back on when questioned about the lack of progress on one issue or another, as appears to be the case with the NSW government's response to Stockton.
READ MORE: The Herald's Save Our Stockton series
The best way for the community to inoculate itself against a political virus is to recognise it for what it is: the natural desire of politicians to seek the limelight when there is something to be gained, and to stay far away when the going gets a little tougher, as has clearly been the case this spring and summer with Stockton.
It did not go unnoticed NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock only visited Stockton in October after opposition leader Jodi McKay had been there, effectively goading her into an inspection of the depleted shoreline.
Four months later, Labor and the Coalition are still blaming each other for the worsening situation, while the government and the council have their own conflict.
The council says the government is ignoring its funding applications, while the government says it cannot contemplate a long-term solution until the council finishes an apparently all-important coastal management plan.
Assuming that a major sand-replenishment program will be needed to help stabilise Stockton, there is no reason the government and the council can't jointly appraise the options in preparation.
There is no obvious reason, either, why the federal government should not be looked to for the sort of natural disaster funding that Scot Morrison and Co have proudly proclaimed in response to the bushfires.
But to show the community she recognises what's at stake, Premier Gladys Berejiklian needs to take control of the controversy by coming to look at things for herself.
While the bill to fix Stockton might be substantial, it is nothing compared to the amount the government is spending on major Sydney projects.
Owning Stockton as a problem would show the premier was serious about governing for all of the state, and not just the blue electorates, and not just in Sydney.
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