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Mayoral Statement – Williamtown RAAF Contamination

Publish Date 16/11/2015

The following is a statement from Mayor of Port Stephens, Bruce MacKenzie, in relation to the ongoing Williamtown RAAF water contamination investigation and its effects on surrounding residents.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Bruce MacKenzie on 0407 820 471.

"Recently I have seen a great deal of discussion, both privately and via the media, regarding the potential effects of the Williamtown RAAF water contamination investigation and in particular the impact it may have on property prices for those within the contamination investigation area.

"My message to those people is this: Do not seek to talk down the value of your property, or those of your neighbours. I am of the firm belief that in spite of the ongoing impacts of whatever contamination has taken place, as well as the impacts of public discussion surrounding it, property values in the area will not be adversely affected and, in all likelihood, will ride out this current storm.

"Like many in the area, I have lived within earshot of the Williamtown RAAF base since it was instituted and I have relied on bore and surface water for even longer than that. My livestock and poultry have done likewise. While I am no scientist, I know what I have not seen – namely any adverse impacts on my animals, my family, or my neighbours.

"I appreciate uncertainty creates concern, and even some fear. That is normal, particularly given the level of public debate that has surrounded the investigation. I do not condone the actions of Defence on this and I have personally written to the Prime Minister, the NSW Premier, the Federal Defence Minister and Head of Defence to urge them to take action on behalf of the people of Williamtown, Salt Ash, Fullerton Cove and beyond. I personally hope my call to connect affected residents to town water will get traction before long.

"I also appreciate that not everyone is in the kind of financial position to not worry about the value of their property. There are many, many people doing it tough. I once again urge anyone who is experiencing financial hardship to take advantage of the services being made available to them, whether it be via the state and federal governments or through financial counselling services being offered by Port Stephens Council*.

"But I urge everyone to ignore the doomsday talk. Property values will fluctuate – always have, always will – but not due to the conclusion that I see so many jumping to at the minute. Stay strong, and stick together. We will get through this."

*Financial Counselling services are being delivered on a weekly basis for businesses and fortnightly for individuals and families via the Port Stephens Business Centre, located in Raymond Terrace. Please contact Andrew Arnott, Port Stephens Business Centre on 0457 924 554 to book an appointment.