Tweed MP Geoff Provest says long-standing koala issues on the Kings Forest site mean the site is not
Tweed MP Geoff Provest says long-standing koala issues on the Kings Forest site mean the site is not "shovel ready”. Patrick Woods

Federal MP slammed over Kings Forest 'shovel ready' claims

TWEED MP Geoff Provest has called out Federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot over her claims the Labor-backed Kings Forest site for the new Tweed Valley Hospital is "shovel ready".

In a statement released last night, Mr Provest said claims Kings Forest was shovel ready were "false and misleading" due to koala habitat issues surrounding the site.

Mr Provest said the Department of Planning was finalising its assessment of a revised Koala Plan of Management for the Kings Forest estate, owned by Leda Holdings and Gold Coast billionaire Bob Ell.

In June, Leda Holdings told the Tweed Daily News it had spent $6 million on its Koala Plan of Management and planned to increase koala habitat on the site and replace 18 removed koala food trees with 10,000 more.

It is estimated there are less than 100 koalas left on the whole Tweed Coast with approximately one-third of those located adjacent to Kings Forest.


Leda Group, Reg van Rij on the Kings Forrest Development site
Leda Holdings development manager Reg Van Rij on the proposed hospital site at Kings Forest. Scott Powick

But Mr Provest said Leda Holdings had sought to modify their Koala Plan of Management, which had resulted in 2000 public submissions objecting the proposal.

Mr Provest said the submission would be assessed and referred to the Independent Planning Commission to make a decision.

"There is no issue with healthy debate and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but to distort the facts about the state of the Kings Forest site is completely unacceptable," Mr Provest said.

"I'm calling on Justine Elliot to immediately apologise over her claims Kings Forest is a shovel-ready site for an important new hospital for the Tweed."


NSW State Member for Tweed Heads, Geoff Provest
Tweed MP Geoff Provest. Scott Powick

Mr Provest said in a "bizarre twist", the Kings Forest site may actually require further approval under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act due to the koala activity adjacent to the hospital site.

Mrs Elliot said last week she would question Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price over the same Commonwealth Act due to critically endangered wildlife on the selected site at Cudgen.

She said the site selection at Cudgen could have breached Commonwealth regulations due to endangered wildlife on the site including koalas, the wallum sedge frog, the water mouse and southern black-throated finch.

When contacted by the Tweed Daily News, Mrs Elliot did not respond to questions about the Kings Forest koala issues but instead accused Mr Provest of sexism and "bullyboy attacks". 

"Geoff Provest should start doing his job instead of telling outright lies and launching personal bullyboy attacks against women in public life," she said.

"It's no wonder there are no women representing the Nationals on the North Coast - these people are outright nasty bullies.

"I stand with our community in fighting to save our state significant Cudgen farmlands while building a better, faster and on budget hospital at Kings Forest.

"The fact is Kings Forest is shovel ready and properly zoned for a hospital.

"My job as a local MP is to stand up for our community on the issues that are important to us and I won't be silenced by National Party bullies."