No port in a storm as impasse looms large

Cattle Bay in Eden is possibly one of the best kept secret locations on the Sapphire Coast, and it is not difficult to see why it has been sought after by developers as a site for a marina, resort hotel, convention centre and residential complex.

All that remains from its past life as the site of the town’s tuna cannery is the ugly scar on the land from where the asbestos-riddled cannery buildings once stood. 

Equally ugly, however, is the impasse that has developed between its long-term owners and Bega MP and transport and infrastructure minister, Andrew Constance, over funding of a wave attenuator. 

There is much at stake: on the one hand the developer says that without the wave attenuator, capital works with a value of $127.9million will not go ahead; on the other, is Mr Constance’s credibility, with him repeatedly and uncategorically stating that there will be no government assistance for the Cattle Bay development. 

Mr Constance says the government will fund only one wave attenuator and that is at Snug Cove under its $10 million Eden Safe Harbour Project where, of course, Port Of Eden Marina group is waiting in the wings. 

That Eden needs a marina is not in question. The argument for such a facility on this strategically positioned part of the coast has been well articulated by members of the yachting fraternity, including the Wild Oats syndicate, over many years.  

The town also needs a break and there is no denying that what is proposed for Cattle Bay is an attractive proposition for a town that has endured downturns in the timber and fishing industries, and the closure of the cannery in the late 1990s. 

Tourism does seem to be the way to bring about economic growth, and the town already has significant runs on the board through whale watching and visiting cruise ships, both of which are highly seasonal. 

Funding two wave attenuators in Eden would be nonsensical. Taxpayers would be justifiably outraged over a duplication of infrastructure.

Clearly the developers need the government’s blessing for an attenuator to be built on the sea bed which is not theirs to own.

The question is whether government should provide the investment stimulus for private enterprise; Mr Constance would say that is already being done at Snug Cove. 

It is difficult to see where this will end. Thankfully, dredging for the Breakwater Wharf Extension is on the horizon.