Council powerless to stop destruction of Kurnell sandhills in late 1960s

The loss of sand from the Kurnell sandhills weighed heavily on the minds of Sutherland Shire councillors 50 years ago, but they appeared powerless to stop what was happening.

The council had campaigned successfully to preserve Towra Point wetlands by arousing the passion of residents, but it did not have the same success with the sandhills.

A Leader report on May 21, 1969 said the council had "reiterated its deep concern at the indiscriminate removal of sand from the Kurnell peninsula".

"Councillors said last week they were appalled at the huge reduction in sand reserves in the Kurnell sandhills," the report continued.

"The council is considering organising a meeting - similar to the Towra Point protest meeting held last year - to arouse public interest in seeking government controls on sand removal."

A photo with the report showed "trucks removing sand from a commercial holding".

The Minister for Land Mr Lewis advised the council in a letter the Department of Lands did not exercise any control over sand removal from freehold land on the peninsula.

Labor councillor Ray Thorburn, who later became the MP for Cook for three years, said it seemed an Australian birthright was being sold haphazardly.

Cr Thorburn said companies were just "flogging" land away irrespective of the results of the removal.

It was "rotten" that the government would not control private enterprise on the peninsula, he said.

Shire president Arthur Gietzelt said a Lands Department officer had told him six years earlier the department was very interested in conserving sand on the peninsula.

Cr Gietzelt said it was obvious he had been "sold a pup".

Cr Maurie Keane said the council could write as many letters as it liked, but the result would always be the same.

He said the council would have to take the initiative and raise public interest as it had with Towra Point.

The council resolution included seeking a public meeting with the State Planning Authority and, if the results were unsatisfactory, to organise a public meeting.

It was also decided to write to the Minister for Lands, expressing concern no records were kept of sand removal or records.