Albion Park residents want urgent flood action

Albion Park resident Ann Schelle believes the community can’t wait for the proposed bypass and wants authorities to urgently fix the Illawarra Highway.

‘‘It’s not fun being flooded in every time a heavy downpour comes down,’’ she said.

‘‘That road floods as soon as it rains and they spent millions supposedly to fix it with pumps and it still floods.’’

Illawarra highway treated like 'bush track' - photos

Ms Schelle said her son Zacharie Dent, 16, who attends Dapto High School’s autism unit, became anxious every time there was a heavy downpour after a bad experience several years ago.

‘‘My son got caught up in the rain a few years ago when the town was cut off due to flooding,’’ she said.

‘‘He ended up being stuck at a teacher’s place until about 11pm. For ages after that, we had trouble getting him to school.

‘‘So now when it rains we have to weigh up whether to send him to school or keep him at home and this year is important for him because he’s in year 11.’’

Zacharie did make it to school earlier this week, but Ms Schelle’s partner, Mark Grew, was not so lucky.

‘‘This time it was my partner who was stuck on the other side of the flooding for six hours while he waited for the water to go down,’’ she said.

Sparks fly between MPs in bypass debate

Kiama MP Gareth Ward was a ‘‘puffed-up peacock’’ who should lobby the state government to expedite the planning stages of the proposed Albion Park Rail bypass, according to Shellharbour MP Anna Watson.

Ms Watson has called on the government to ‘‘frontload’’ the environmental, engineering and concept designs for the bypass, ensuring  construction work starts sooner not later.

The MP was responding to comments made by Mr Ward that planning for the bypass could take three to six years.

The debate has flared up in the wake of heavy rain earlier this week that closed the Illawarra Highway yet again at Albion Park.

‘‘Gareth Ward has been making a fuss for three years,’’ she said.

‘‘He has been getting around the NSW Parliament and his electorate of Kiama like a puffed-up peacock.

 ‘‘He has wasted $1.1million of taxpayers’ money and two years to get the same information that we knew 20 years ago.’’ 

Mr Ward said the ALP was in government for 16 years but did ‘‘nothing’’ to address traffic congestion or the flooding issues around Albion Park.

‘‘The traffic congestion problems at Albion Park Rail didn’t start at the last election,’’ he said.

‘I won the seat of Kiama for the first time for the Liberal Party at the last election and immediately set about to obtain funds in the budget to fix up what Labor had failed to do.

‘‘In the first budget I achieved $100,000 which started the planning process which led to another million dollars being allocated in the forthcoming financial year.

‘‘Rather than calling people names, and engaging in rather puerile and pathetic politics, I’ve actually been meeting with the minister and seeking more funds in the budget to continue the work that Labor failed to do.’’

- LOUISE TURK

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