Lake gazettal push

By Chris Thomson | posted on October 25, 2018

IN A controversial move, the City of Albany will ask the State transport department to gazette Lake Mullocullup at Green Range east of Albany for water skiing.

Whether to authorise skiing at the small lake, otherwise known as Warriup Swamp, has been the issue that has ignited debate more than any other this year.

On Tuesday night, after a full year of debate, all councillors – apart from Anthony Moir, Bill Hollingworth, and Paul Terry – voted to seek gazettal.

Ahead of the approval, Cr Moir of Yakamia Ward argued water skiing was incompatible with other more passive recreational uses of the lake, including bird watching and eco-tourism.

He argued that if the precautionary principle were applied, and no skiing allowed, the lake would “become recognised as a true gem”.

Kalgan Ward’s Cr Hollingworth voted against gazettal on “environmental grounds”.

“We don’t know enough about the lake,” he said.

He said the interests of water skiers were not the only ones needing consideration, with those of Noongar people and birdwatchers needing also to be taken into account.

His Kalgan Ward colleague Emma Doughty employed exactly the same argument, but in favour of the skiers.

“It’s not for just one group,” she said.

“It’s for everyone.”

Skiing at the lake, which had occurred unauthorised for 35 years, was banned in 2015.

Last week in Parliament, Greens WA MLC for South West Diane Evers asked if the transport department would need to gain approval for skiing under the Aboriginal Heritage Act, after the lake was recently listed as an Aboriginal heritage site.

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage had advised that no such referral was needed.

The Weekender can now reveal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt has told Ms Evers referral is indeed required.

The City’s endorsement of gazettal flies in the face of an anti-gazettal letter Ms Evers sent last week to Mayor Dennis Wellington and all Albany councillors.

Vancouver Ward councillor John Shanhun, who lodged an apology, was the only Albany councillor not at the meeting.