House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Grievance Debate

Ocean Reef Marina Redevelopment

7:23 pm

Photo of Ian GoodenoughIan Goodenough (Moore, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The long-awaited $120 million redevelopment of the Ocean Reef Marina is the largest infrastructure project currently in progress within the Moore electorate, which when complete is estimated to generate $3 billion worth of gross development value for our local economy. However, this visionary project has an opportunity cost, the loss of reefs. In contributing to this grievance debate I wish to place on the parliamentary record the concerns of the strong local surfing community, made up of people of all ages, at the loss of three popular surf breaks due to the civil construction works for the marina. In particular, the local surfing community is extremely disappointed by the sudden announcement by the state minister for lands, John Carey, that advertised plans to build an artificial surf-specific reef to replace the surf breaks is to be removed from the scope of works for the project. On behalf of the local surfing community, I would like to initiate a plan to ensure that all levels of government work together to ensure that this project is progressed over a revised time frame and not forgotten. Construction of the marina redevelopment has resulted in three existing surf breaks, at Mossies, Big Rock and Pylons, being lost. The last remaining beach break is only surfable during four months of the year, through winter, due to sand movement and the sandbank shape. This means that surfers have to travel outside of the Moore electorate to access other surf breaks.

I have been contacted by a number of local residents, including Clint Bryan, James Breed, Ben Allen, Steve Blackwood, Michelle Ellis and Craig Lawson, who have all strongly advocated for an artificial reef to be installed south of the Ocean Reef Marina to restore the surfing breaks. Many other local residents and surfers in the northern suburbs have also contacted me through social media. There is a strong level of community support from groups, including the Mullaloo Boardriders Club Inc., which has more than 100 members, and the Ocean Reef Artificial Reef group. The group has collected 2,621 signatures in an online petition in support of the construction of an artificial reef to offset the loss of the three surfing breaks. The group organised a protest paddle, with over a hundred participants, in response to the cancellation of the initial plans to build the artificial reef.

When the marina concept plan was advertised for public consultation in 2009, it included an artificial surfing reef, but this plan has since been removed because of the potential costs, which are estimated to be in the order of $7 million. Instead, the artificial reef has been listed as a potential future amenity. According to a statement by the state Minister for Lands, the artificial reef is deemed unfeasible:

DevelopmentWA had employed a team of coastal engineering experts to investigate the potential for the artificial surf break and found it to be unsafe.

It is claimed that the advice which the government received is:

… due to a number of factors, including swell direction, the topography of the area and public safety concerns, an artificial surf break was not considered feasible within the development area.

However, the surfing community proponents contend that these safety concerns only relate to constructing a break at the northern wall of the project and not at the preferred location at the midpoint of the development area, between Mullaloo Point and the southern wall of the marina. It is expected that, as a result of predicted ocean currents, a significant body of sand will start to build up between Mullaloo Point and Ocean Reef Marina over the next 10 years or so, creating a new beach. This presents an opportunity at this location to investigate a surf break.

Mullaloo Point is arguably the most popular surf beach in the City of Joondalup, and a reef break directly to the north of that would increase the capacity for recreational surfing. Shallow sandbanks are a potential hazard and a danger to surfers. Mullaloo Beach features prime examples of shallow sandbanks, which have caused several injuries to local surfers. A reef break, by contrast, creates wave breaks in a more consistent manner and at a consistent depth, creating a safer environment for surfers, in comparison to shallow sandbanks.

Since construction of the Ocean Reef Marina began, there has been a large increase in congestion at Mullaloo Beach, all the way from Korella Street up to Key West, particularly over summer. This congestion comes in the form of overflowing carparks, queues at the showers and toilets, and overcrowding of surfers in the water. The City of Joondalup has commissioned a report on options to develop a concept for a surfing and fishing reef between Mullaloo Point and the newly constructed southern breakwater at the Ocean Reef Marina. Any future discussions outside the Ocean Reef development area would need to be undertaken in consultation with the community, stakeholders and all levels of government.

The Mullaloo Boardriders Club has been in contact with local schools, including Mullaloo Beach Primary School and the Ocean Reef Senior High School, which support the installation of an artificial surf-specific reef. Ocean Reef Senior High School runs a dedicated surfing program and has previously held classes at the reef breaks that have now been removed. The loss of the free surf breaks has resulted in the inability for the club to hold surfing contests as frequently. Last year, there was only one surfing contest at Mullaloo Beach, due to the lack of wave shape making the conditions non-contestable. The club was forced to hold its other two contests at Lancelin's Back Beach, requiring members to travel for over an hour north. A new artificial surfing reef would allow competitions to be held with more consistently shaped waves at our local beach and at the marina.

National statistics indicate that 10 per cent of Australians surf as a pastime. This equates to 16,000 potential surfers in our local community based on the current population of the City of Joondalup, which has approximately 160,000 residents. Surfing WA conducts surfing lessons at Mullaloo in winter each year, which has seen an increase in participation by 20 to 30 surfers per lesson. With an artificial reef, these increases in the number of surfers can be spread out across multiple breaks, improving the accessibility for beginning surfers to enter the sport. The inclusion of a surf-specific artificial reef would benefit our community by boosting participation in this sport. Surfing has a variety of mental health benefits, encouraging people to embrace the outdoor lifestyle.

The local government alone would not be expected to build the artificial reef, nor would the state government be likely to initiate the project. However, there is scope for all three levels of government—local, state, and federal—to work together to jointly fund the project. At a cost of at least $7 million, this represents a large project which must be listed for consideration among other competing community projects in the current difficult economic climate. It will take several years of dedicated effort for the project to materialise.

Our local surfing community deserves to have this amenity restored. The construction of an artificial surf-specific reef must be placed on the capital works agenda, with steady progress made to achieve it over the next decade. I call upon all levels of government—local, state and federal—to work together with the surfing community to remedy the situation by installing an artificial surf-specific reef at the midpoint of the development area between Mullaloo Point and the southern wall of the Ocean Reef Marina. Our community deserves a plan outlining how this very worthy project will be progressed and delivered in the future.

Photo of Michelle Ananda-RajahMichelle Ananda-Rajah (Higgins, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time for the grievance debate has expired. The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 192B. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 19:33