Moffee in the Morning, Triple M Coffs Coast 106.3

03 June 2024

Tim Ayres, good morning, mate.

SENATOR TIM AYRES: Yeah, g’day Moffee. It's the first Monday of winter. I’m sitting in my office, it’s about two degrees outside, raining. Would be nice to be on the coast, that's for sure.

MOFFEE: There's a lot of concern up here at the moment with the Coffs Harbour bypass and a whole bunch of residents out at Pacific Bay Resort because of a number of reasons. One, they want a noise wall out there because this evening, all the trees along the front, they are going to be removed. We're talking thirty years worth of trees there, to put a detention basin [sic] in. All they're asking for is an amenity wall or a noise wall, but they're getting that refused by the New South Wales transport. It's an 80/20 project and I know in the scheme of things, the Federal Government, it's more putting the money in there because the job is done by State Government. But this is a concern at the moment.

SENATOR AYRES: Yeah, you're right, Moffee. I heard about this issue and had a long discussion with Councillor Tony Judge about this issue that he's been quite active about. You're right, at the end of the day, the Commonwealth doesn't get down to this level of detail with these kinds of projects. We've provided some support for it and billions of dollars for upgrades along the Pacific Highway as that road is constantly being improved. You know, when you think about what the Pacific Highway used to be like, when we were growing up and where it's gotten to now, it's extraordinary progress. It does make sense what local residents are saying, and I know Tony's been very active about these issues. It appears to me that the problem is that the last government, when they structured the costings for the project and did the plans for the project, they did not include this soundproofing measure in the project itself. And while the local National Party members have been making some noise about this, the truth is when they are in government, they didn't put the plan in place that would deliver what it is that local residents would like. I understand you did a pretty good interview with Jenny Aitchison from the from the New South Wales Government last week.

MOFFEE: In fairness, towards the end of the election, there was a promise from the Nats [Nationals] that they would put the wall in there. And obviously, that hasn't been followed through from the new side of government when they got in. I've been told last week by the Minister, saying that when we pulled the trees out, we're going to be putting in fast growing trees to replace it. Well, that's false, because they've been telling Brad Damon, the general manager out there that they can't put trees in because they're going to build a detention basin [sic]. So, you can't have trees around it, because the leaves will block it up with debris, they can only put grass around that. That's going to expose that entire area. Now they're asking for a wall, which - they've costed this, Tim - one 400th of the total cost of the project is what it would cost. Now, on top of that, you've got Russell Crowe, looking at putting studios right there in that area as well. Now, aside from the studios, we've got a thousand people bedding down every night, in that precinct. It's almost like the second-rate citizens of New South Wales with this when you've got other areas, kilometres that are getting sound walls and, you know, double glazing and stuff like that. This could also affect, moving forward, of having these film studios there, which could bring massive industry to not only our region, but to our state.

SENATOR AYRES: They all seem like pretty convincing arguments to me, mate. It's not something that the Federal Government gets engaged in the detail of these kinds of projects, but I know exactly what it's like to be to be right up close to a highway, and I know exactly what those residents will be feeling. I think the case that you make about future economic development and film studios makes perfect sense to me. I know Tony Judge, local Labor Councillor is on about this issue. He's demonstrated that he's very happy to take up the case over this issue or Jetty Foreshore development, of course, where his position is on the side of local residents on these questions. I'm confident that he'll keep making the argument, and if there's anything I can contribute, I'm very happy to.

MOFFEE: It might be a decision today because they're meant to be ripping those trees out tonight. So, it's really right at the final hour. Mate, Parliament setting again, what's coming up this week? Obviously there's a lot on migration and things like that.

SENATOR AYRES: Yeah, absolutely, look on the Senate side, it’s Senate estimates. So, we'll be in that estimates process. It starts early in the morning and finishes late at night. It's one of the key features of Australian Westminster democracy and accountability. I'll be fully engaged with that. Of course, we've had a lot of noise about migration over the last couple of weeks. Lectures from Peter Dutton about migration policy. The truth is that we won't be taking lectures from Peter Dutton about migration. His period as the Immigration Minister saw 1,300 serious criminals released, not because of a court direction but because he and his ministerial delegates decided to release them into the community. And now he's complaining about a series of releases that the current minister was forced to do by a decision of the High Court. So, there's a lot of noise and a lot of politics involved in all of this, and we’re just going to keep plugging on with the serious business of fixing the migration mess. The immigration system mess and making sure that we're keeping Australians and keeping the community safe.

MOFFEE: Gonna be fairly busy, busy week. We've got to get to the news and wrap things up, but it's always great to chat Tim.

SENATOR AYRES: Good on you Moffee, catch you next week.