Jet boat proposal blasted

FORMER deputy prime minister and riverside Murwillumbah resident Doug Anthony last night joined green activists and residents from near the mouth of the river in objecting to jet boat tour rides.

Mr Anthony spoke up at a Tweed Shire Council "hell-of-a-jet-boat" for "scenic tours" of the Tweed River.

The proposal also horrified some residents of Fingal who claimed sight-seeing tourists would be strapped into a jet boat which would only slow down for special scenic strips of the river and speed along others.

"I speak about the health of the river which I know very well," said Mr Anthony, former federal leader of the National Party.

"I've seen the result of water skiers and jet boats and the way they erode the river. As the banks collapse they tend to silt up the river.

"In the 60 years I've lived there, I've seen at least a dozen oak trees fall into the river."

The damage, Mr Anthony said, was worse where the river had sharp bends south of the Murwillumbah bridge near his Greenhills home.

Roger Graf, an ex-military photographer, said the business plan by Pena Jet Boat Rides Pty Ltd to conduct the boat tours of the river would rely on the thrill of riding in a jet boat at speed.

"People aren't going to pay dollars if it's not a thrill," he said.

But businessman Chris Pena said the objectors had it all wrong.

"The stigma going around of a hell-of-a-jet-boat doing thrill rides is incorrect," Mr Pena said, adding that the boat was enclosed and passengers strapped in only for thrill rides over waves in the ocean.

"For our river cruises we would not have people strapped in harnesses."

Mr Pena said the jet boat would not do more than 65km/h whereas jet skis "do 80 to 110 kilometres (per hour)".

The councillors voted to defer consideration of the proposal to their January 27 meeting and re-advertise the details. New objections must be lodged by January 14.

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