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17 March 2019 Posted by 


Coast could be king maker 
ROADS, transport, developments and the lakes will be the key Central Coast issues in the upcoming March 23 State election.
Cash has been flying around the coast like the bookies’ circle on Melbourne Cup day as candidates from both sides attempt to outdo each other in the “Promises, Promises,” stakes.
The coast is seen as a vital region in the election as the Liberals attempt to retain Terrigal and possibly pick up The Entrance. The ALP is favored to hold Gosford and Wyong but have put a big effort into retaining The Entrance and picking up Terrigal.
The four sitting members are favored to retain their seats but at this election the Central Coast is a potential “kingmaker”. Seeking a third term in office, the Coalition needs to lose only six seats – a uniform swing of 3.2% – to lose its majority, while Labor would need to pick up 13 to take power outright, meaning a minority government looms as a distinct possibility.
David Harris is a strong local member for Wyong and is the most active user of social media amongst all the local candidates. He is also quick off the mark in taking up local issues that pop up in the community.
When the “Bring Back The Gap” Facebook page suddenly took off, calling for a restoration of the old ocean flow into the ailing Budgewoi Lake and Lake Munmorah and gaining a massive following, he was quick off the mark in getting out to the lake and inspecting the disastrous shoreline. He promised to pursue the call by locals to restore the opening.
His Liberal opponent in is traditional Chinese medical doctor and acupuncturist, Ying Shu Li-Cantwell.
Born in Guangzhou, China, Ms Li-Cantwell gained her qualifications in both nursing and traditional Chinese medicine before arriving in Australia 24 years ago.
She has also completed a Diploma of Health Counseling, followed by a Masters in Health Science, at Western Sydney University.
She lives in Wyong and runs her own business, Hong and Lan Natural Therapy Centre in Toukley.
The Libs are counting on a major upgrade of the popular Wyong Hospital to be a big winner at the ballot box, but Mr Harris countered by backing a union backlash against the hospital being transferred to private ownership.
This year, the coast is shaping as a microcosm for an election which strategists say is “all about anxiety”, and where the competing narratives of urban revitalisation and concerns about overdevelopment promise to play out at the ballot box.
“Think about it, you’ve got a large cohort of people who made the conscious decision that in their lifetime they will never be able to afford a house in Sydney, they want to start a family so they move up to the coast,” one party strategist said.
And then immediately they start to see home values drop. Suddenly they start to feel like they’re stuck in Gosford for the rest of their lives.”
Liesl Tesch, the Labor MP for Gosford who has held the seat on a 12.5% margin since a by-election in 2017, offers a familiar narrative of urban decline.
“Gosford is like Newcastle was, and like a lot of regional cities really, that have possibly lost their momentum when the big shopping centres have arrived on the edge of town and taken the wind out of the old city centres,” she said in a media interview.
“There’s lots of empty shops, and the city hasn’t had that much vibrancy or people moving through it. When there’s no real need to come into the city it becomes a commuting hub and a hospital precinct.”
The Liberal Government has been pouring a massive amount of effort into Gosford through its local State Planning office and frequent visits by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts.
Liberal candidate Sue Dengate, a small business owner, is banking on the fact that the city is finally turning around and there are cranes everywhere building new offices and apartment blocks.
She cites the creation of jobs and opportunities for young people on the Coast as amongst her key issues.
In February, the minister for planning, Anthony Roberts, was in the city talking up a “surge in investor confidence in Gosford” as a result of the plan. He also announced plans to spend $16m expanding the huge potential of Mt Penang parklands.
Gosford in turn is also a microcosm, representing of all the coast’s issues. Businesses welcome the upsurge in new residences and development and newcomers want jobs and growth. However long term residents are fearful of overdevelopment and the strain on public transport, roads and parking.
For Ms Tesch, it’s a balancing act between acknowledging those concerns without giving into nimbyism.
“We’ve definitely seen a growth in population as the housing prices in Sydney forced people north and that puts more pressure on our finite train system and our parking capacity,” she said.
“It’s certainly something we have to be mindful of. We can’t stop people moving into the community, but I do get concerned when I see seven-unit blocks without an iota of grass.
Really, what we need to see is development, but development that is mindful and respectful of the area in which we live.”
The Entrance is the most marginal seat, held by Labor’s David Mehan on a wafer thin margin. He is being taken on Brian Perrem.
Mr Mehan was quick off the mark by promising lifts for the busy Tuggerah station, but the Libs came back with an offer to match the lifts and throw some in at other coast stations.
The big issue in the seat is the ailing Tuggerah Lakes system which is clogged with foul smelling weeds and has turned into a swamp in formerly pristine areas. More than $80m has been spent on the lakes in the past 20 years…with little results.
Both parties swung their big guns at the lakes, pledging inquries, cash and management plans.
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and Liberal Candidate for The Entrance Brian Perrem today announced a new initiative to improve water quality in the Tuggerah Lakes.
Ms Upton said if re-elected in March this year the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government would commit $200,000 and establish an expert committee to determine the best way to improve water quality in the Tuggerah Lakes
Like all seats on the coast, The Entrance is seeing big changes with the traditional working class Long Jetty-Toowoon Bay area becoming an up market suburb full of renovations and developments.
Next door, booming Terrigal is battle between sitting member Adam Crouch and ALP councilor and firefighter Jeff Sundstrom.
Mr Sundstrom appeared to score a victory when the council voted down the controversial Winney Bay lookout and bridge, but Mr Crouch came straight back by pulling the $4.8m government grant for the project.
The ALP’s support of environmental Independents in blocking projects in council and supporting the Coastal Retreat theory has given the party a negative image amongst many voters, while others applaud their stance.
Terrigal Beach’s troubled water quality then popped up as a key issue and the cheque books and promises came out again and a mass meeting was held at the local surf club.
However, the water quality is suffering from the council’s large drain at the southern end of the beach which means council will ultimately have to fix it with State Government assistance.
Mr Crouch then played a massive trump card when he announced $387m plans to duplicate The Entrance Rd between Wamberal roundabout and Bateau Bay pub.
This clogged 3.8km artery has long been the bane of 26,000 plus residents who have to use it twice a day to get to and from their work and businesses.
It was a master stroke by the Libs because it affects voters in all seats on the coast, but especially The Entrance and Terrigal. The Libs also came up with a plan to upgrade the infamous “death road”, Wilfred Barrett Dr, between The Entrance and Norah Head.
So there you have it. The candidates are mounted, the starter’s light is flashing, the winning post awaits.
And by Sunday morning it will all be over: just a pile of signs and how-to-vote leaflets, empty champagne bottles, promises to be kept and to be broken and billions of dollars to be spent.


Michael Walls
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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