TWEED Shire, meet Robert Monaghan.
The Grafton-based Bundjalung man is seeking to represent the North Coast as a councillor on the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, which takes in the Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council, at its October 31 poll.
And, if elected, he would place Kingscliff’s controversial Lot 490 on the top of his to-do list.
“The state government has made a huge mistake by not recognising there is a land claim on Lot 490,” Mr Monaghan said.
“There’s a big perception that if it is given back to the Aboriginal people they will put high rises and development on there, which is not the case.
“The community on the Tweed have better blocks of land in other areas like Fingal which they could develop on, but they don’t.”
Mr Monaghan said if elected on Saturday, he would lobby the state government to resolve the land title claim as soon as possible.
He said he hoped to resolve the issue before Opposition MP for the North Coast, Walt Secord, finalised his Bill to preserve Lot 490 as a regional park.
Save Lot 490 campaigner Ron Cooper said it was essential the issue was resolved as quickly as possible, warning a backlog of more than 20,000 Aboriginal land claims could delay any decision, leaving Lot 490 vulnerable.
“The last thing Kingscliff needs is Lot 490 to be left as a dumping ground for rubbish, a haven for vandals and attraction for arsonists,” Mr Cooper said.
“They are pushing out 10 years or more the revegetation that would be part of a regional park, and delaying its public use for recreational activities.”
He warned if the Aboriginal land claim was successful, Lot 490 could be legally sold for freehold development by a land council in the future.
Lot 490 is the last empty lot of land between the residential developments of Kingscliff and Salt.
Its future has been the subject of concern by the community for many years, with strong support for it to be preserved as open space.
Mr Monaghan, 50, was a motor mechanic before serving on the Aboriginal Health Service for 17 years. He later became the region’s Aboriginal sexual health manager before completing a Masters degree in Public Health.
He also works for UNSW and runs a consultancy company. He is standing against serving councillor Tina William from Lismore.