Lennox Point.
Lennox Point.

Barilaro: ‘NIMBY’ council made wrong decision over WSL

The shock rejection of hosting the World Surf League at Lennox Head has left "sour taste" in the mouths of the NSW Government.

Ballina Shire Council on Wednesday put a stop to plans to bring the multimillion-dollar major surfing event to Lennox Head after councillors found the plan was unacceptable.

Visiting the region on Thursday, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said it was a "real shame" the council had rejected the proposal.

"We've been working with the World Surf League, a significant government investment that we had and it's a real shame the community up here don't want to see such a significant tournament," Mr Barilaro said.


NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro in Lismore on February 4.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro in Lismore on February 4.


"We've got an opportunity to bring world class athletes to this state, to the regions and showcase how wonderful our regions are.

"Events like this would be great and beneficial to a community, it's a real shame the community and the council last night it's not what they want.

"It's a real shame we couldn't turbo charge this economy."


>>> 'Go somewhere else': Anger brews over WSL plan for Lennox


Mr Barilaro said he questioned whether the council had listened to the entire community, despite only being given a few days' notice about the event proposal.

"I do feel it was such a rush decision by council off the back of a confidential meeting and they made a decision," he said.

"I do question if it is the majority of the community (not wanting the event) because I was at Lennox Head this morning at a couple cafes and business owners who were keen to get in behind.

"The reality is we don't need council on side, we have a right as a state government to run these events.

"But what I don't like doing is coming to an area where the community don't want to seem to respond or accept and that's the bigger issue for me.

"We want to invest; the community don't want it.

"I think this is a NIMBY (not in my backyard) area.

"Everybody wants all the investment by government but as long as it's not in their backyard.

"I do ask the question if it's genuinely the majority, it's left a sour taste in the mouths of our mouths."

Mr Barilaro said he had other regional councils calling him this morning in the hopes they'd now be chosen to host the WSL event.

"This was a multimillion-dollar investment by the government, this would have generated tens of millions of dollars of revenue for businesses," he said.

" (WSLs) number one choice when they looked across the state, and they could have picked places like Newcastle and even Sydney, they actually picked this region.

"I actually think that's a vote of confidence in this region and what is here.

"I've had a number of councils from other regional areas that are prepared to take on the WSL.

"We'll work with them and we'll find the right location."

>>> How people power sent the World Surf League packing

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