HANGING ON: The bat camp in Cessnock which escaped a deliberately lit fire on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
HUNTER MP Joel Fitzgibbon has accused the Liberals of pork-barrelling in marginal seats after NSW Premier Mike Baird “magically” found $2.5 million to solve a bat plague in Batemans Bay.
The funding, which was announced as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull campaigned on the South Coast on Monday, compares with just $10,000 offered to Cessnock.
It comes as anger with flying fox camps, which are situated just metres from property, continues to mount across the Hunter.
A sign that anger is at breaking point, residents were accused of lighting a fire behind East Cessnock Primary School on Saturday in a desperate move to disrupt bat camps.
Mr Fitzgibbon said Mr Baird’s announcement that flying foxes in Batemans Bay would be relocated was an insult to the Hunter.
“I am just so angry – I am absolutely ropeable,” he said.
“We’ve had a number of Hunter councils crying out for help for some time yet magically Mike Baird comes up with $2.5 million for Eurobodalla (Shire Council) when only last Friday he provided Cessnock council $10,000 for the same thing.
“This is pure federal election pork-barrelling at the expense of Hunter communities.”
Mr Fitzgibbon called on Mr Baird to explain why Hunter communities had been ignored.
“I call upon Mike Baird to give the same consideration to Hunter residents as he has given to Batemans Bay residents and to do so pronto,” he said.
As part of the funding, Mr Baird committed an extra $1 million to fix other trouble-spots in NSW, but details about which communities would benefit were not available.
The funding will go towards relocating the Batemans Bay bats as they are a protected species.
The announcement comes a week after federal environment minister Greg Hunt gave Batemans Bay an exemption from strict environmental protections.
Mr Hunt also committed $250,000 for the relocation.