I read that Peter Garrett was coming to the neighbourhood to answer community questions about the headlands, which is a long running political issue. Garrett was at the shops here, with his minders and quite a crew of Labor folk.
From my simple perspective, it seems this is the history: The headlands currently belong to the federal govt. They want to hand the land over to the state, as nature reserve and open community space. To do this they first have to clean it up because it’s been mistreated for years and is heavily contaminated with asbestos presence and has big issues with leachate from Sydney Water. When Garrett tried to clear the land for decontamination / remediation work to commence he evicted the horse riding school and bulldozed their facilities. He then also served notice to the NSW Rifle Association based on a technicality and gave them a very short time for remediation. They got themselves a good lawyer and took the govt to the supreme court – where they won. What this means now is we still have a shooting range, and we’ve lost the stables. And until the mess with the NSWRA is untangled the remediation work cannot be done because much of the asbestos is actually in the rifle range.
When things got really interesting is when Michael Fenely – Garett’s opposition showed up to keep him honest. The conversations were really interesting, but when the rain arrived after and I found myself on the pavement with a coffee and talking one on one with Michael Fenely it occurred to me that his ideas on how to deal with the headland issues are way more viable – and better still, the Liberals are not scared to put timelines around their commitments – for example, Fenely told a group of about fifteen people that the Libs will have the horse riding school back on their land in six months should he be elected.
I loved having horses in the neighbourhood and even though I’m not a rider I seriously hope they get to return. The rifle range on the other hand – well this is a recording from my back garden when the gun slingers had a tournament on:
As you may have guessed, I believe that the city and this area have both evolved and grown enough to warrant the removal of the rifle club, it’s just a matter of time. Certainly this won’t happen until the federal government honour the lease agreement which says they have to give them enough notice and find them an alternative location. The NSWRA probably won’t ever talk to Labor outside of a court room, so I suspect it will come down to a pragmatic person to get them back to the table, find them another venue, get them to accept the termination of their lease, and help them relocate. This may mean we’re stuck with the shooters.