Over the past eight years I have addressed this House many times about the disgraceful lack of dredging of the Swansea Channel by the former Liberal Government. For years I have made budget submission after budget submission to multiple former transport Ministers, calling on them to fund the dredging of the Swansea Channel. I also extended invitations so that they could see the impacts of the shoaling firsthand. Each and every time it fell on the deaf ears of a government that simply did not take this important issue seriously.
When the former Government did finally recognise the urgent need to provide funding, the channel had shoaled up and was no longer safely navigable. In July 2021 the issue was so blatantly obvious that even the former Liberal Government was forced to announce $6.2 million to conduct emergency dredging in five waterways across New South Wales, including the Swansea Channel, which it claimed was the priority. It should come as no surprise that, despite the funding announcement, those opposite failed to spend a single cent of this promised funding on dredging of the channel.
The Liberals' negligence has put the safety of boaties at risk, with countless stories from boaties who have got stuck in the channel. It has also placed additional pressure on the local Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue volunteers, who do a fantastic job and often have to respond to vessels attempting to navigate the channel. The lack of a safely navigable channel has placed a handbrake on our region, with local marine businesses and local yacht clubs recounting stories of dropping visitor numbers. One example of this is the Royal Motor Yacht Club at Toronto. Its annual Heaven Can Wait regatta, which raises money for the Hunter branch of Cancer Council NSW, has seen declining participation over the years, year on year. It was so refreshing to be joined by the new Minister for Transport, my friend Jo Haylen, who actually took the time to visit the region and announce that finally, after years of delay, the project to dredge the Swansea Channel is underway.
I am pleased to say right now as we stand in this House that dredging works at the Swansea Channel are underway. The Minns Government has provided $1.5 million to dredge 30,000 cubic metres of sand via two dredging campaigns. The first campaign is underway right now, and it will dredge 15,000 cubic metres of sand. This dredging will provide a 30-metre-wide channel to the depth of minus 3.5 Australian height datum and allow for vessels with a draught of up to 2.5 metres to travel through the channel safely. A second dredging campaign to be held in autumn of 2024 will remove a further 15,000 cubic metres of sand. This sand will be repurposed to address local erosion issues on Blacksmiths Beach. I know the community has waited a long time for this project. I am so proud to say that the Minns Government upon being elected immediately set to work on delivering this important project.
The announcement of these works has been welcomed by the community and boaties right around the State. Swansea Channel and Lake Macquarie is one of the premier waterways in Australia. For too long it has been inaccessible. With these works we are opening up that waterway for everybody to enjoy once again. I can assure the community that work does continue on developing a 10-year dredging strategy, and I look forward to working further with the Minister for Transport to deliver on this important work. Unlike our predecessors, this is a government that takes this issue clearly and will deliver for the people of Swansea.
I am so proud to be able to say in this place that the Minns Labor Government stood by the promise it took to the election of March 2023. One of the first things it did was set about ensuring that one of the most beautiful lakes in our midst is now able to be navigated safely, and we as the people of New South Wales are able to enjoy that to the extent that we should. I also acknowledge that the member for Gosford is in the Chamber. She is another great advocate for the waterways in her area. She tells me that dredging has begun in her area of Ettalong.
The dredge has arrived. Together we have fought for dredging, and it is only a Minns Labor government that has delivered it.