Surf clubs face fund cutbacks

CUTBACKS to surf lifesaving budgets resulting from State Government limits on the amount councils can levy developers will result in drownings, according to the man who has been pushing for years for more paid surf lifeguards on the Tweed.

“People will die, end of story, said Gordon Walker, president of the Casuarina Residents Association.

“It's another good reason to abolish state governments. They are dinosaurs.

“It's wrong.”

Tweed Shire councillors at their monthly general meeting tonight are due to consider a new range of so-called “Section 94 fees” to be charged to developers for infrastructure, including surf lifesaving “emergency facilities”.

But because the State Government has capped the amount the council can charge developers at $20,000 for each new block of land, staff have had to calculate a new, lower range of charges.

Some other fees, such as contributions towards the provision of footpaths, trees and library books have been totally banned by the government.

In a report to councillors, staff say Planning Minister Kristina Keneally, in reviewing Tweed's charges, expressed the view that surf lifesaving facilities were not “key community infrastructure” because they are volunteer rescue and emergency services.

“Nevertheless,” they said, “while Council has received a further direction to cease collecting contributions for street trees and library book stock (from July 17)” it had not been banned from collecting money for surf lifesaving.

Mr Walker said the reduced funding for surf lifesaving clubs meant pressure would grow for council-funded lifeguards.

“If that is going to happen, effective life-guarding is the way, particularly on the long beaches we have here,” Mr Walker said.

“Surf clubs will have to start pulling their heads in as far as any ancillary stuff is concerned.”

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