Unions and community combine to save Killalea Park

Issue 

The Killalea State Recreation Park between Shellharbour and Kiama comprises 250 hectares of Crown land on 8km of coastline renowned for its surf beaches.

Details of a private development on the publicly owned land were released on the NSW Department of Lands' website on June 22. Lands minister Tony Kelly has conditionally leased 17.6 hectares of park land for 52 years to Killalea Coastal Developments.

The agreement allows up to 202 residential lodges as well as swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurants, a conference centre and other infrastructure.

The Save Killalea Alliance, formed in late May, has gathered a petition of 6000 signatures opposing the development. Representatives of the alliance have met with Kelly and according to the June 21 Lake Times, he agreed to refer the matter back to the park trust to consider further options.

Mark Paloff from the alliance, and a member of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, told Green Left Weekly: "Once the executive of the South Coast Labour Council had unanimously endorsed entry into the campaign to save what is a public recreational resource — i.e. a state park — from privatisation, exploitation and alienation ... we looked around at which other groups and individuals were also active on the issue." This meant "the campaign had the dual attack of the trade union movement and a united voice of the community".

Paloff said state government policy on Crown lands had shifted from "managing and protecting public land to a policy of promoting the private exploitation of public land. This change has been secretly in effect since 2002, without public consultation or disclosure."

The alliance is gaining some support from local council members and mayors and plans to meet with planning minister Frank Sartor. Further actions in the park are also being planned.