More than 16,000 signatures collected on Myuna Bay petition
2nd May 2019
Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Max McKinney| Posted: May 2, 2019
More than 16,000 petition signatures have been collected by Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper calling for Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre to be reopened.
The petition will be presented to state parliament when sitting resumes next Tuesday and then scheduled for discussion.
Mr Piper said the "shear audacity" of the way the centre was closed had "galvanised people's opinion".
"The thing was, mainly, to get that 10,000," he said.
"This needs to be raised in the parliament, and this allows me to do that.
"The depth of feeling out there, while the immediate anger has subsided, people still haven't forgotten about it."
A review of Origin Energy's report outlining risks with Eraring Power Station's ash dam, which forced the closure of the centre, is being undertaken by the NSW Dams Safety Committee.
Mr Piper said it was a "very appropriate body" and he would accept its findings.
"But that doesn't let the decision makers off the hook," he said.
"For the way they did this, the way they disrespected the staff, the community, council, other agencies that should have been consulted. They don't get a pass on any of that, they never will."
The Newcastle Herald can reveal NSW Office of Sport CEO Matt Miller brought forward his retirement last week and has left the agency.
New Sports Minister John Sidoti is set to visit the Myuna Bay centre with Mr Piper on Friday to become acquainted with the site.
Myuna Bay staff remain hopeful the centre will reopen.
About 20 "ongoing" staff are on special leave, but it expired on Tuesday. The employees' union, the Public Service Association, has asked the Office of Sport for the leave to be extended.
"More than a month after the sudden closure of Myuna Bay workers still have no clear idea on their future," PSA assistant secretary Troy Wright said.
"Now their special leave has expired, they're soon to be left without pay. Members are trying to make decisions about their future, but haven't been given any information about what options are on the table."
Redundancies or relocations to other centres across the state were initially discussed with staff. Retraining has also been mooted.
The Herald understands redundancies could be offered to employees at other centres to accommodate relocated staff.
Part of the problem for Myuna Bay staff remains the uncertainty of the review and whether it would influence the government to overturn the decision to close the centre.
The Office of Sport previously said problems with the ash dam could not be rectified, nor a new centre built nearby, within two years, which means staff have to be moved on in some way.
Retired CEO Matt Miller told Mr Piper in the weeks after the closure the centre would remain in tact with the option of reopening it at sometime in the future.
Greg Piper has been an independent voice for the people of Lake Macquarie for more than 20 years, as a Member of Parliament, Mayor and councillor. He was elected to Lake Macquarie council in 1991, served as Mayor from 2004 until 2012 and has been the State MP for Lake Macquarie since 2007.