Michael Regan has settled into his new office with a clear agenda for his first term as a Member of the NSW Parliament.
With fifteen years of experience as Mayor of the Northern Beaches, and Warringah before that, Mr Regan is making the transition to State Parliament as the Member for Wakehurst with an air of confidence.
“It has been four weeks since we started. I had a day off on the Sunday after the election, and took it all in. I had a chat with the Premier [Chris Minns], he congratulated me and we set up a time to meet during that week, and I met with many Ministers in that first week after the election. I outlined what we want to achieve here in Wakehurst.
“Then we started trying to put together a team. There’s that funny period of two weeks where the votes are still being counted. It is a sort of weird limbo, you don’t have an office, you don’t have staff, and can’t recruit for staff formally, so I was relying on volunteers.
“We were keen to make sure that we hit the ground sprinting, because I’m a bit of a workaholic, and there’s lots to do. We have got an agenda we want to push and make happen. The new government has been very open to that, and want to work with us.
“We have barely stopped since the election. I did have a week break to reset, which originally had been booked as three weeks back in December. That became one week when I decided I was going to run and then got elected.
“To Brad Hazzard’s credit, he called me immediately and met with me and basically did a hand over. I really appreciated that,” said Mr Regan.
Having stated he would remain on Council if he was elected in Wakehurst, Mr Regan revealed to the Northern Beaches Advocate yesterday that he was standing down as Mayor of the Northern Beaches, with an Extraordinary Meeting called to replace him as Mayor on Tuesday, 16 May.
“I knew I couldn’t be Mayor and State Member because it is just too much. It is a big Council and I take it very seriously in my role as representing everybody from Manly to the Forest, to Palm Beach.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to be just a Councillor and being more vocal, because as Mayor you have got to Chair the meetings and temper your opinions.
“I will see out my term as a Councillor for the Frenchs Forest Ward. That is partly because we’re looking for a new CEO, and partly because it is nice to be able to keep that experience I have had over 15 years on Council.
“Councillors have encouraged me to stay on, both Liberal and Independent, saying it is great to have experience, and a different perspective. It has been very kind of them to say that, so I see it as a positive, and I see it as an opportunity for both my community and for Frenchs Forest Ward as well. It is largely my Wakehurst community anyway,” said Mr Regan.
The decision to resign as Mayor allows him to focus on the issues he feels are critical to address for the Wakehurst electorate.
“We have an immediate crisis with the buses. We have only just discovered the previous Liberal Government renewed these contracts for eight years, when they knew there was issues. I have met with NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen, and I’m having subsequent meetings in relation to what we can do. She has set up a task force, and I expect to be a part of that.
“Stopping development at Lizard Rock was something I stood on. I have started conversations with the relevant Ministers and put it on their agenda to ask how we are going to fix it. We need to find a way and we need to be supportive of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), in terms of the promises made to them. We need to balance that and support the intent of the legislation.
“We need to look at development on the whole Northern Beaches. We are meeting Minister Scully in relation to Frenchs Forest and will also raise Brookvale. That leads on to opportunities for affordable housing, which is a key policy area.
“There is opportunities within our area to do much better on affordable housing, and I want Northern Beaches Council to take a lead on that. The Wakehurst electorate has shown a willingness in the past to be able to deal with it in a mature way.
“I’ve also been meeting with Ministers about ensuring PEP 11 cannot proceed. I stood with Layne Beachley before the election on this issue and have raised it with the government about how we get on with it,” said Mr Regan.
Issues that frustrated Mr Regan as Mayor remain on his agenda in his new role as a state MP, with the Wakehurst Parkway at the top of that list.
“I reject Rory Amon’s comments that council is holding it up, because that is just not true. Any organisation can always go a little bit faster, but the assertion that we were holding it up and being stuck is just fundamentally not true.
“What happened was the boundaries kept changing, with a $75m announcement by federal government, which was matched by state government [with $75m subsequently withdrawn by the Federal Government] to widen the road. So all of a sudden, that means the reports have to be redone and rescoped.
“So I reject that notion, because we have been waiting on state government to give us the nod. Then it went into a hold because of the election. What I have done is I’ve met with John Graham [NSW Roads Minister], and I took Northern Beaches Council staff with me.
“We met with him and bureaucrats from Transport for NSW, to hear where it is at, and why it is taking so long. Council is keen to spend the money, but we also know there’s a $13m hole, give or take.
“We also need to discuss who runs the project. If they do the whole big widening project, then why don’t they just manage the whole thing and get into the work? I think that will be determined, those negotiations are happening,” said Mr Regan.
With Labor having promised to scrap the Northern Beaches Tunnel project, he is realistic about the prospects it will proceed, but insists that other much-needed infrastructure be delivered for the area.
“They have already said they are not going to build it [the tunnel], but finishing the planning process would mean it can be built in the future.
“We have got a project that has far more impact locally. Northern Beaches Council has been working with Infrastructure Australia, and the NSW Government on the Pittwater Road corridor from Balgowlah Golf Club to Mona Vale, the Wakehurst Parkway, Powderworks Road and other smaller corridors where there are pinch points and snarls.
“Infrastructure Australia gave us the nod, saying the highest priority item, which has the maximum amount of benefit locally is the Officeworks intersection at Brookvale [Pittwater Road and Warringah Road]. There’s a process to go through, but it’s a high priority, and there is opportunities to get that ready to be constructed when the money is there,” said Mr Regan.
The Wakehurst electorate office is located at Shop 3, 637-641 Pittwater Road, Dee Why, and can be contacted via email or phone on 02 9981 1111.
Source: Northern Beaches Advocate