It's a fiasco
By JADE BILOWOL
MORE than $1 million in Queensland Government funding was announced last week for the controversial yet non-existent Palm Beach artificial reef in a bureaucratic bungle.
Oblivious to the Gold Coast City Council's decision to sink the proposed reef late last year, Local Government Minister Desley Boyle issued a media release confirming funding to help council upgrade rock walls, dredge Currumbin Creek and use the dredged sand to build an artificial reef.
A spokesperson for Ms Boyle said the funding would be quashed and the error had occurred due to the council not informing the government about its decision to delete the reef in its current form from a strategy to stem erosion at Palm Beach. In the press release, Ms Boyle stated, "I know some people, especially surfers, will be disappointed at the lower waves, but expert advice shows this is the best way we can protect the beach".
The council was forced to sink the reef after a wave of community protests and an independent study by Professor Colin Appelt that found the reef would trigger dangerous waves. Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey slammed the government for not keeping abreast of community protests and triggering panic.
"This is another example of the state government handing out money without taking the necessary steps of finding out its proper use and not understanding the needs of the south-east Gold Coast," Ms Stuckey said.
"Lack of communication between state and local government has caused widespread panic within the Palm Beach region because of a statement made by Minister Boyle stating that the Palm Beach Reef is still going ahead.
"Maybe the state government should pay more attention to local action groups and protests that have been prominent since the Gold Coast City Council first proposed the idea of an artificial reef."
Save Our Surf (SOS) spokesman Glen Elliott said the bungle "did not surprise me" and that SOS members had been "immobilised" to fight Ms Boyle's pseudo decision.
"It's just one bungle from the Gold Coast City Council after another, that's the way we see it," Mr Elliott said.
"We had journalists ringing and members ringing trying to find out what was going on.
"We had the troops immobilised and after a year-long fight we were not going to let a politician sign off on something that the locals don't want."
Ms Stuckey said the bungle demonstrated Ms Boyle continued to support the artificial reef even though locals believed it would be detrimental. Palm Beach councillor Daphne McDonald confirmed the reef was definitely not going ahead in its current form, despite recent media reports state government funding would help it come to fruition.
Mr Elliott said Prof Appelt's report confirmed the reef, designed by the Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management, had major design and safety flaws the council could not ignore.
"The gradient of the reef was a farce. It was too steep and had a tendency to create a very dangerous tubing and plunging wave," he said.
In the embarrassing media release, Ms Boyle also said, "We really must take into consideration what would happen to the beach in the future if this work does not go ahead".