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Cuts to Local Water Testing

Late last year, I called out the Minns Labor Government for their short-sighted decision to make cuts to the Beachwatch Program which includes two sites in the Oatley electorate.

Since 1989, the Beachwatch Program has provided a comprehensive monitoring service for swim sites in the Sydney coastal area at no cost to local councils, it tests for pollution and contamination, including from enterococci bacteria which is an indicator of whether faecal matter is in the water.

Late last year, the Department of Planning and Environment wrote to local councils, including Georges River Council, to indicate the NSW Government has now made this an ‘opt-in, fee-for-service’ program, meaning local councils will now need to fund this vital monitoring themselves.

Locally, there are two sites in our area, Oatley Bay Baths and Jew Fish Bay Baths which currently fall under this program.

The decision to cut this program is absurd and alongside Shadow Minister for Environment, Kellie Sloane, I recently met with the Oatley Amateur Swimming Club to discuss how important it is that this vital service continues.

It has now also been revealed that Georges River Council will not fund the program themselves following the cessation of NSW Government funding after July, making this a dire situation for our local community.

The former Coalition government released a 10-year strategy in which $18.5 million was committed to expand the program and now NSW Labor have saw fit to cut this important program.

The Georges River is a beautiful asset in our community, and it is crucial that the NSW Government ensures that the water is safe enough for local residents to continue to enjoy the recreational swimming, fishing and boating activities we all cherish.

If the NSW Government won't reverse the cuts, then it is imperative that council picks up the bill to ensure water quality testing continues at our local sites at Carss Park, Oatley Bay Baths and Jew Fish Baths.

This is simply a bad decision for everyone, and I am calling on the Minns Labor Government to reverse their cuts to the Beachwatch Program.