The rollercoaster careers of NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca and his wife, Belinda Neal, federal MP for Robertson on the Central Coast, continue to enthrall politics junkies.
He is being tipped to leave the NSW upper house and “do a Barrie Unsworth” – find a seat in the Legislative Assembly and replace Premier Morris Iemma. If Joe Tripodi decides to throw in the towel, his seat at Fairfield in western Sydney would provide a vacancy while Marie Andrews’ Gosford electorate, near where Della Bosca lives, has also been suggested.
Meanwhile, Neal has settled into federal parliament which she left ten years ago after a four-year term as a senator. Before winning Robertson by a wafer-thin 200 preferences last November, Neal worked for the Lands Minister Tony Kelly. Before that, she was member of the board of the Festival Development Corporation which is in charge of the 156 hectares of magnificently located public-owned land at Mt Penang north of Sydney.
Yesterday, the Education Department run by her husband, Della Bosca, submitted a development application to Gosford City Council to build a junior high school at the corporation’s Mt Penang Parklands. Della Bosca made the announcement about the project last September in the run-up to the federal election with Neal standing at his side.
Meanwhile, prominent Central Coast hotelier Bob Bourne, a member of Della Bosca’s Kincumber ALP branch and a former president of the Australian Hotels Association, also has a special interest in Mt Penang Parklands.
For three years he ran the Parklands Tavern in the site until the lease ran out in February last year. Now he has been given permission by the corporation to re-locate his pub licence to a new venue just opposite the visitors’ centre, a far superior location to the previous one.
Bourne is delighted with the new arrangement and is hoping to have his new pub up and running in six months.
Former premier Bob Carr and former planning minister Andrew Refshauge must be shaking their heads at the evolution of the precious parkland which they hoped would become a world-class garden, horticulture, tourist and conference centre.
Instead, some of the above is in place, plus a spacious new pub at the entrance, a junior high school and the Mt Penang juvenile detention centre with maximum and minimum security facilities all lining up on the same precinct.
To make matters even more unfathomable, the Education Department owns a superior site about four kilometres away which does not hold the same road safety risks for students as the Mt Penang site which is near the six-lane north-south motorway.
NSW Labor — “More to do, but heading in the right direction.” Oh dear.