Hearing me talk about the Swansea dredge is not foreign to this House, and I am back again tonight with some amazing, fantastic news. I advise the House that, after 12 years of inaction from the former Liberal Government, the Swansea dredge has happened and it is now navigable. The New South Wales Government has delivered on its priority election commitment to dredge the channel. Since I was elected as the member for Swansea in 2015, I have consistently campaigned for a long-term dredging solution to ensure that the channel is navigable and Lake Macquarie is safe for boaties. I wrote to former lands Ministers, water and property Ministers, and transport Ministers, and each and every time it fell on deaf ears. The Liberals simply had no interest in ensuring that the channel was navigable and safe.
The reality of the shoaling of the channel is that it hurts our region financially as vessels are unable to exit and enter to attend local events. One example of that is the Royal Motor Yacht Club at Toronto. Its annual Heaven Can Wait regatta, which raises money for the Hunter branch of Cancer Council NSW, has seen declining participation over the years, year on year. The shoaling of the channel also places strain on the volunteers of Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie, the busiest marine rescue service in this State. Its volunteers are called upon to tow and rescue vessels that get stuck when attempting to sail the channel, not only placing additional pressure on their resources but also putting their safety at risk.
The Minns Labor Government promised that it would make the dredging of Swansea Channel a priority, and I am so pleased to say that that is exactly what it has done. I acknowledge the Minister for Transport, Jo Haylen, who has taken the issue very seriously and worked hard to deliver that result. Last year I stood alongside the Minister for Transport to announce that the New South Wales Government would invest $1.5 million to dredge 30,000 cubic metres of sand via two dredging campaigns. That dredging would provide a 30-metre-wide channel to the depth of minus 3.5 Australian height datum and would allow for vessels with a draught of up to 2.5 metres to travel through the channel safely.
I am pleased to say that the first round of dredging is complete and saw almost 17,000 cubic metres of sand removed from three areas to create a 30-metre-wide channel extending from the dogleg south-east of Elizabeth Island up to the drop-over north-west of Swan Bay entrance—very local yokel, but everyone at home will know what I am talking about. It is a great result for the people of Swansea and the broader community of Lake Macquarie. We promised to deliver the project as a priority, and that is exactly what the New South Wales Government has done.
The feedback that I am hearing from boaties who have seen this project take shape and people on vessels coming through is that it is nothing but a fabulous success. The dredging works have been welcomed by not only the local community but also boaties around the State. Swansea Channel and Lake Macquarie comprise one of the premier waterways in Australia, and for too long it has been inaccessible. With those works, we are opening up the waterway for everybody to enjoy once again. We are open for business. It does not stop there, though, with a second round of dredging to take place in mid-2024 and work continuing on the long-term dredging solution. A smart government will deliver that. The dredging of Swansea Channel is a clear signal that, under Labor, we have a government that will once again invest in the Hunter region and deliver for local communities.