Sydney’s Rockdale Council will stop at nothing to build a 100-vehicle car park on the foreshores of Botany Bay in the face of environmental, heritage, planning and community objections.

When Greens councillor Lesa de Leau joined other local figures in calling a protest demonstration on the beach last weekend, she was slapped with an infringement notice by her own Labor and Liberal governed council.

She has been ordered to pay a fine of $220 for the offence of “deliver address/hold religious service/meeting without approval”.

Cr de Leau said she would contest the infringement notice in court later this month.

Not content with railroading an unpopular $6 million car park project through council for the benefit of patrons to two upmarket seafood restaurants, the council is now trying to stifle free speech.

The protest was attended by more than 400 people who heard speeches from Cr de Leau, Independent councillor Liz Barlow, Labor councillor Shane O’Brien, Rockdale’s Labor MP Frank Sartor, the former Planning Minister, and Greens MP Sylvia Hale.

“It’s not often I end up on the same platform as the Greens, but this is a matter of public interest,” Mr Sartor said. “I have never come across a proposal this bad.”

Sartor will present a petition signed by more than 2000 objectors to Lands Minister Tony Kelly who has approved the outrageous plan.

Cash-strapped Rockdale Council doesn’t have the money to pay for this environmentally destructive project. It can either push up rates (a huge no-no), impose cutbacks on spending or rip money from worthy projects to pay for it.

More worryingly, the council majority voted last December to apply for a federal infrastructure grant. Will the Rudd government be crazy enough to give taxpayers dollars to the councillors of Rockdale so they can build a car park on the beachfront of Botany Bay for the benefit of two restaurants?

The Federal Infrastructure Minister is Anthony Albanese. He is the husband of NSW Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbut, the Environment Minister. “Albo” has attended dozens of Labor Party fund-raisers at the Le Sands Restaurant and is under pressure to support the project from the council’s officially retained lobbyist, “Leaping” Leo McLeay, the former Speaker.

Watch this space.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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