Austinmer bush fire brigade’s bureaucratic battle for new facility continues

State MP for Keira, Ryan Park with RFS volunteers outside the outdated Austinmer station

THE exchange of unused railway land at Thirroul to Wollongong City Council to enable the relocation of the Austinmer Rural Fire Service (RFS) to a more suitable location continues to be bogged-down in red tape.

Despite Council and the RFS working together to prepare a concept design for a new facility in Sea Foam Ave, and the necessary feasibility studies, including geotechnical and construability assessment – all of which has been paid for by Council – the project remains in limbo while Sydney Trains and Council negotiate an asking price for the property.

State MP for Keira Ryan Park said the NSW Government is “trying to make a buck” by selling the unused land at “market rate” to Council.

“This is an absolute joke and to be quite honest I have had enough of this bureaucratic nonsense,” Mr Park said.

“The work that the Austinmer RFS does is critical in protecting people and property and the current site where they are located is completely unsuitable, yet despite this we have another Government agency standing in the way and trying to flog off unused land for a premium.”

Mr Park said he has written to the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance raising his concern.

“I intend raising it with him again and for as long as I have too until we get a suitable arrangement and the RFS can begin to get the new facility underway with the assistance of Wollongong City Council,” he said.

“If Minister Constance doesn’t have the ability to stop this nonsense then I will take it up with the Treasurer because at the moment all the NSW Government is achieving is ensuring that this important infrastructure will be delayed even further,” Mr Park said.

A Sydney Trains spokesperson said it supports Council’s acquisition of the land at Thirroul for the creation of a new rural fire station.

“As Council is aware, this land is required to be acquired at ‘market value’ as per NSW Treasury’s guidelines for any land sale between government agencies and local governments,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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