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Tweed coast guards stripped of their accreditation

TWEED Coast Sea Rescue at Hastings Point and Kingscliff Coast Guard may launch an appeal after their accreditations were stripped by the State Rescue Board.

Following a long-running dispute with Marine Rescue NSW, both groups are no longer authorised to attend marine emergencies since being notified of the change in late December.

In the event of being advised of an emergency off the Tweed Coast, they now have to alert Marine Rescue head office in Sydney who would then advise the nearest accredited organisation, most likely Point Danger Marine Rescue.

Kingscliff commander-elect John Purnell said it was placing lives in danger as the Point Danger crew would obviously take longer.

"We're off the call-out list by police and Marine Rescue," Mr Purnell said. "Its bureaucracy gone stupid.

"It's training and skills which aren't being utilised by the boating fraternity here in Kingscliff."

Mr Purnell said they were considering an appeal to the NSW Ombudsman over the decision and he had been holding discussions with Tweed State MP Geoff Provest who is also the parliamentary secretary for police and emergency services.

The dispute centres on a handful of rescue organisations refusing to join Marine Rescue NSW which began taking over coastguards in 2009.

Tweed Coast Sea Rescue president Gary Thorpe said he would support an appeal against the decision.

"After 30 years of hard work, shed building and community fund raising Marine Rescue NSW demanded nothing less than a complete signing over of all boats and assets with the very real threat of then closing down our Rescue Squad," Mr Thorpe said.

He said the police had already demonstrated they would not call in his group as they were excluded from the search in

February for missing man Greg Hutchings and his three-year-old daughter at Pottsville.

"We can only hope that this situation does not end in grief and tragedy.

"We are still proud members of NSW Volunteer Rescue Association and will continue to train and maintain our rescue craft."



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