Rescue boat launched

BUREAUCRATIC red tape has been putting people's lives at risk on the Tweed, with the simple problem of whether to fill out an application form stalling approval of the Kingscliff Coastguard's much-needed new rescue vessel.

After more than 12 months waiting for approvals from the state government the Coastguard may soon have the all-clear for its new quick-response vessel that was commissioned at the weekend.

Coastguard commander John Purnell said the NSW Maritime Department still needed to sign off on plans for a fuel tank for the vessel which was officially named after the late Kathryn Ray on Saturday.

"All the vessel needs now is for a maritime surveyor to say that the fuel tank meets safety standards and then it will be right to use," he said.

"We have been waiting for this to be signed off since May last year.

"The busy summer boating season is just around the corner and lives of boaties and members of the public will be put at risk if the vessel isn't approved for rescues."

After being contacted by the Tweed Daily News yesterday, a spokesperson for NSW Maritime confirmed approval of the vessel's new fuel tank had been stalled due to the Kingscliff Coastguard not lodging an application for the vessel to be surveyed, and once the application is received it should be given the all clear.

But Mr Purnell believes bureaucratic bungling has led to the delay.

"I tried to put in an application three weeks ago but was told by staff at the Maritime office in Tweed Heads that is wasn't necessary," he said.

"But someone from Maritime spoke to the regional Commodore Peter Campton today (Sunday) and said he remembered we had previously lodged the plans for the fuel tank, and said I would have the application form on my email waiting for me tomorrow (today).

"Apparently once we have sent off the application it will be given approval."

The six-metre aluminium rescue vessel that was funded mainly by community donations, was commissioned by the Coastguard on Saturday, and for the first time in the flotilla's history it has been named after a local identity -- Kathryn Ray -- the wife of late Salt Village developer Brian Ray.

Mrs Ray's children Tom, Jack and Savannah Javed were on hand on Saturday to launch the vessel.

"The Rays have done a lot for the Kingscliff area, and have been sponsors of Coastguard for the past five years, so we wanted to thank the%family and pay tribute to them," Mr Purnell said.



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