Premier Gladys Berejiklian says shes proud of her achievements in Port Stephens while residents await news on a Mambo buy back and Fingal link road

IMMEASURABLE: Premier Gladys Berejiklian said "it’s not just the dollars we put in, it's dependent on the great community spirit that exists". Picture: Simone De Peak
IMMEASURABLE: Premier Gladys Berejiklian said "it’s not just the dollars we put in, it's dependent on the great community spirit that exists". Picture: Simone De Peak

The state government made a raft of announcements in Port Stephens last week but when it came to questions on the Nelson Bay Road duplication, the Mambo buyback or even the Fingal link road, it was a case of ‘watch this space’.

It began on the Wednesday with $30,000 for outside of school hours care in Medowie and $2400 in line marking equipment for soccer kids at Raymond Terrace.

Come Friday it was more positive news, with Raymond Terrace Court House benefiting from a share in $810,000, cake to mark 50,000 customers through the Nelson Bay doors of Service NSW, and elsewhere in the seat of Port Stephens, $1 million to upgrade the Tea Gardens police station. Premier Gladys Berejiklian concluded her visit to Port Stephens with a certificate presentation ceremony at Raymond Terrace Senior Citizens Hall.

In her address to guests Ms Berejiklian said the efforts of the 13 recipients went beyond what governments could achieve.

“Yes, state and local governments can work together to achieve a lot together. But volunteers always step up and do things that governments can’t see or can’t do and we are very, very grateful for that,” she said.

“I’m someone who always looks at what can make communities stronger, what can make communities better. It’s not just the dollars we put in its dependent on the great community spirit that exists.”

Ms Berejiklian later told the Examiner that she was pleased with what her government had achieved in Port Stephens.

On the topic of a Mambo buyback – to correct her government’s “mistaken” sale of the six hectares of surplus education land – Ms Berejiklian said she remained hopeful. In February, Ms Berejiklian directed the Minister for Planning to start the process.

“The delay hasn’t been our intention, the delay is because it has to go through council, it has to go through a number of different stakeholders, we’re not the ones that control the issue on our own. Our intention is to resolve it in a positive way and if it was up to us we would have resolved in six months ago,” she said.

The buyback has hinged on negotiations with the buyer Paul Unicomb, which has reportedly proven problematic. 

“That’s for the relevant authorities to deal with but the local councillors have kept me informed on the issue and I note that council recently passed a resolution concerning this.”

Ms Berejiklian said she was pleased to have a good working relationship with Port Stephens Council.

The mayor Ryan Palmer when elected six months ago spoke with her in a visit to Parliament House in which he reiterated the need for a Fingal link road, first gazetted in 1966.

Ms Berejiklian said there were many priories to consider.

“I’m really pleased that we have made a number of commitments to this community already, and a list of things the community wants to see us add to,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to working with council on all those issues, we want to be a government that puts resources into where those priorities are and even this morning I was pleased to put an extra $1 million into the Tea Gardens police station upgrade.”

Ms Berejiklian said she had taken a keen interest in Port Stephens.

“For me personally, building the koala sanctuary, or hospital, is a very important initiative and I’m very proud of that,” she said, of last month’s $3 million announcement.

“There’s much, much more to come but we’re a government that has worked really hard, in fact we’ve worked our guts out, to be in a position where we can actually invest back into communities.”

Ms Berejiklian replaced Mike Baird in the role of Premier, after he made the 2015 election pledge to prioritise the full duplication of Nelson Bay Road from the Tourle Street Bridge to Nelson Bay.

Where it was up to, Ms Berejiklian said she was unsure, and would take the question on notice.

Quick to offer some advice, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast said it was coming, pointing to some potential ‘good news’ on June 19.

“I’m confident there will be an announcement in the budget,” he said.

“I’ve been working with the Roads Minister [Melinda Pavey] and I was only talking to Roads and Maritime Services [Thursday] morning. I’m hopeful there will be an announcement on June 19.”

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said she was not invited to Friday’s commendation ceremony.

“I’m delighted to see these hard-working and community-minded residents and organisations being recognised for their important contributions to our area,” she said.

“I would have loved to be there to celebrate with my constituents, but sadly the Premier has seen fit to turn me away from the event.”

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