Glenlee property Lugarno

Friday, 11 June 2021

On behalf of residents within both Lugarno and the broader St George community, I extend my support in making the Glenlee property an intergenerational public green space for all to enjoy. The Glenlee property, also known as Lugarno Farm, has been preserved by the Matthei family since 1910, but the strong evidence of Indigenous occupation demonstrates that the history of this space is far greater. The rich social and cultural ancestry should be enshrined as a place of beauty and reflection, not a subdivision of 31 properties. We must acknowledge that this space is currently listed on the National Trust of Australia (NSW) register as part of the Lugarno Early Settlers Local Heritage Precinct. The entire premise of this protection is to safeguard the custodianship of heritage sites and places of historical significance. By selling this land for financial gain we are selling out the values of the Lugarno community, which have been passed down through generations of local residents. No two parcels of land are the same and we cannot treat it as such.

Almost half of this area is covered in undisturbed tall blackbutt eucalypt bushland, which has been classified as possessing high ecological value. This site acts as a filter to protect the Georges River from stormwater run-off and it is home to locally rare echidnas, swamp wallabies and other wildlife. We cannot afford to interfere in the biodiversity and natural ecosystem of this area. If this site becomes repurposed for housing, the natural beauty of Lugarno and the Georges River will be damaged forever. This is not a matter that can be taken lightly. My community has called for action and I am determined to do everything that I can to ensure that this green space can be a precinct where our natural ecosystem and cultural history can thrive.

Lugarno is a close-knit community with just over 5,000 residents consisting of 1,600 families. This is not an appropriate suburb for large-scale development, and the burden that this would place on local infrastructure has not been properly accounted for. The latest findings from the 2021-22 intergenerational report from NSW Treasury anticipates that our State's population will grow by 3.3 million people before the year 2061. In order to plan for the future, we must protect our green spaces and do what we can to provide our children with the same, if not greater, recreational and environmental opportunities than we had. More locally, the feedback that I receive from the community on a daily basis dictates that we do not want more development. Whether it be additional high rise along the Riverwood rail corridor or increased development along the Oatley foreshore, I have always staunchly opposed inappropriate overdevelopment; this case at Lugarno is no different.

I have written to the mayor of the Georges River Council, Kevin Greene, and the member for Banks, David Coleman, as well as to a number of State Ministers in this House, including the Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean; the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes; the Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey; and the Special Minister of State and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin, in the other place, to exhaust all possible avenues of support. I understand the costs and procedures involved make this process difficult, but it is not impossible. The benefits of this potential community and environmental precinct far outweigh these restricting factors. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase public green space in Lugarno for the benefit of the entire St George community and it is one that we cannot miss out on.

I sincerely hope that all levels of government can work together to ensure that this space can become a community precinct that enshrines our local cultural history for generations to come. That is what our community is demanding and that is exactly what I will continue to fight for. This week we have launched a petition, which many people have already signed in support of this fight.