SOUTH Coast MP Shelley Hancock has come out swinging at the federal government after it has been revealed Roads and Maritime Services was forced to spend $1 million making new homes for frogs on the Princes Highway at South Nowra.
Mrs Hancock said it was an absolute joke and the federal government should “butt out of state-run projects”.
Work on duplicating the highway started in 2012, but was halted for three months on the orders of the federal government, following the discovery of rare and endangered green and golden bell frogs.
To allow the project to proceed the state agreed to spend $1 million on half a dozen ponds, surrounded by security fences, on both sides of the highway between Hillcrest Avenue and BTU Road.
Mrs Hancock said she was astounded by how much money had been spent on the ponds for the endangered green and gold bell frog, which are surrounded by security fences.
The new frog facilities include swimming pools and piles of rocks outside each pond with stumps on top, so the frogs can bask in the sun.
Mrs Hancock said it was a monumental waste of money and doubted the frogs would even use the ponds.
“It is an absolute joke,” Mrs Hancock said.
“And we had no choice.
“I’m not only astounded but horrified that we could spend a million dollars on frog ponds, fences and a pile of rocks when really logic tells you they won’t breed or sun themselves there.
“And why would they want to, next to a four-lane highway getting covered in diesel fumes?
“Somewhere along the line we have gone wrong with the regulations.
“I appreciate we have to protect endangered species but this is not the way to protect a species that is breeding elsewhere – we need to protect the places they do breed.”
She said the million dollars could have certainly been better spent.
“It would have saved the Milton library for 20 years, council could have built pathways everywhere, or dredging residents are crying out for at Sussex Inlet,” she said.
“A million dollars could have helped any of our agencies, schools or be used for council projects.
“I would have gladly handed over a million dollars for council projects rather than spend it on rubbish.
“It is time the federal government got out of our way on projects; we had environmental safeguards, protection and own regulations when we are building highways.
“Once you get everyone dabbling in a project, that essentially is a state government highway and project, it was prolonged for three months and the community suffered as a result.
“The federal government can go build the federal highways and they can use all the regulations they like on those but stay out of our projects.
“The state doesn’t dabble around in local roads either, council has their local roads and they are their responsibilities.”