Furious Piper seeks answers from Premier

2nd April 2019

The state's roads department confirmed to the Newcastle Herald on Monday it had not had any dialogue with Origin Energy about the risks the dam posed should a major earthquake occur. 

"Roads and Maritime Services has not been contacted by Origin Energy about the Eraring power station ash dam," an RMS spokesperson said. 

"Roads and Maritime is today seeking advice from Origin Energy to determine if action is required regarding Wangi Road."


The baffling lack of consultation is in stark contrast to the relationship between Origin Energy and the Office of Sport, which moved swiftly to close its recreation centre on Friday

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper met with Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday to discuss the NSW Office of Sport's decision to close Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre. 

Friday's unexpected closure caught the Independent MP off guard, but he launched a petition on Monday to overturn the decision, which he described as a "total betrayal of our local community". 

While Ms Berejiklian is understood to have been unaware of the closure and has begun an investigation, a letter Mr Piper sent to her office before the meeting outlines how abrupt the closure was. 

"Origin Energy and the Office of Sport appear to have made deliberate use of the caretaker period of the government to plan and execute a coup in closing the Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation facility," he said in the letter.

"The aim is clearly to reduce the liability of Origin Energy in maintaining the safety of the Eraring power station ash dam wall to protect public assets against a possible future catastrophic event, being the unlikely, but not impossible failure of the wall in the event of a magnitude 5.9 or above earthquake. 

"This action was taken by the Office of Sport apparently at the request of Origin Energy and without consultation with the local Member of Parliament, Lake Macquarie City Council or the community."

Mr Piper said he believed there was "more to the decision ... than meets the eye". 

He questioned if Origin Energy's desire to "minimise its financial liability to protect the centre might have aligned nicely with the desire by some ... to revisit off-loading the asset", following a push to privatise sport and recreation centres in 2016.

Mr Piper said the "unprecedented manner" of the closure had disrespected the community. 

He called for an "immediate halt" to all actions of closing the centre and for the release of studies and communications used to arrive at the decision.

Opposition spokeswoman for sport Lynda Voltz said on Monday the Office of Sport had begun removing resources from the centre. 

"They've closed the sport and recreation camp but haven't closed Wangi Road or the playground next to it," she said. 

"And by Monday morning were already in there with trucks to strip the place out." 

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