Swansea Channel is the heart of the Lake Macquarie region—a pristine waterway that locals and tourists alike love to flock to for recreational activities. However, this House knows all too well that the former Liberal Government failed to carry out vital dredging works, which has limited the community's ability to take advantage of all that the lake has to offer. For more than two years now, the channel has not been dredged, and it has experienced recurrent silting, making it too shallow for boaties to get through. In July 2021, $6.2 million was allocated to one of the former Government's biggest-ever dredging programs. Swansea Channel was the priority out of five New South Wales waterways set to benefit from this program. We are yet to see a single cent spent. The former Government then went on to promise that emergency dredging would take place in the channel before last Christmas. This was then pushed back to February 2023. The Government well and truly failed to ensure dredging took place at that time.
The Liberals' negligence has not only inconvenienced boaties; it has also been a handbrake on Lake Macquarie's economy. The region's yacht clubs have been significantly impacted by the lack of dredging in recent years. I know that many clubs have had to cancel or postpone sailing regattas because dredging has not taken place. For example, the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto has experienced a drop in participants for its annual Heaven Can Wait regatta, which raises money for the Hunter branch of Cancer Council NSW. Surfing and fishing events have also been hindered. Businesses that look after boat maintenance, like marinas, have also suffered a blow. This is because we have seen nowhere near as many boats and yachts sail in and out of the channel as we have in the past. I know that Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie has also felt the strain from the lack of dredging as they have experienced a major increase in the number of rescues they undertake. I thank them for their efforts in keeping those using the lake and surrounding waterways safe.
The people of Swansea, and the State as a whole, are quite frankly fed up with the diabolic state in which the former Liberal Government left Swansea Channel. However, I am here to assure them and members of this House that the Minns Labor Government has listened to their pleas for action. I am a long-time advocate for a permanent dredging solution for the Swansea Channel. Prior to the State election, Labor committed to undertaking dredging in Swansea Channel as a matter of urgency if it was to win government. Now the new Labor Government is delivering directly on that promise. The Minister for Transport advised Transport for NSW to commence the procurement process, with the tender to engage a contractor for dredging published and closing on 1 June 2023.
The Maritime Infrastructure Delivery Office [MIDO] is planning to carry out the first dredging campaign in July, and the second in autumn next year. This is significant progress—and we have been in government for only a few short months. This has been an ongoing issue for far too long, and this announcement makes clear that the Minns Labor Government is delivering on our commitment to dredge Swansea Channel, delivering for the people of Swansea. It will continue to deliver for every person in New South Wales.