'Sandman' minister to visit Kirra

THE Sandman - NSW Lands Minister Tony Kelly - is set to hold talks on the future of the Tweed River Sand Bypass.

Mr Kelly, responsible for overseeing the sand pumping project which has so far cost $77 million and wrecked the world famous Kirra surf break, is due to visit Kirra tomorrow, March 6.

He will meet Currumbin's Labor candidate Michael Riordan and discuss advice from Queensland government representatives and his NSW department.

Gold Coast Mail surfing columnist Andrew McKinnon said Mr Kelly's visit was another step forward in the “Bring Back Kirra” campaign.

Mr McKinnon co-organised the Australia Day Save Kirra Paddle Out which attracted 3000 protesters and helped force politicians to announce policies to fix Kirra in the lead-up to the March 21 Queensland state election, shaping up to be a close result.

Meanwhile, Tweed MP Geoff Provest expects to wait another few weeks before he knows the outcome of a freedom of information request seeking details of the sand pumping contract.

Mr Provest wants to clarify if the contract with McConnell Dowell Corporation specified that the Kirra reef and surf break should have been preserved.

Last week, Labor and the Liberal National Party both announced $1.5 million promises to move sand away from Kirra to improve the surf break.

“The only real difference in policy is that the LNP are prepared to go further by turning off the Tweed sand pumping for three weeks,” Mr McKinnon said.

“Both sides have vowed to initiate immediate action to move sand off Kirra by creating dunes, sand sculpting the beach to change currents, and shaping sandspits and inshore gutters to bring the bank in.

“Over the past seven years, 10 million cubic metres of sand was taken from South Tweed and pumped off Lovers Rock ... yet only one eighth (of that sand) actually moved north, with the rest clogging Coolangatta, especially Kirra Point to North Kirra.”

Mr McKinnon said he was hopeful the visit by Mr Kelly would assist the restoration of Kirra.

Last week's election promises have been welcomed by the Kirra Point Committee, whose members earlier attended a meeting with Queensland Environment Minister Andrew McNamara.

Mr McNamara's office has been liaising with Mr Kelly and has sought advice from the Queensland Environment Protection Authority.

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