RAINBOW Beach residents are at risk of having to pay to drive on their beach again after an investigation into beach fees was launched in State Parliament this week.
Member for Gympie Tony Perrett has called on the Queensland Government to rule out reinstating fees for residents of the coastal strip.
He said the fee exemption for Rainbow Beach residents was under threat with a parliamentary committee report calling for an investigation into users of the exemption and a review of the permits over a two-year period.
Beach fees were introduced by the Labor state government in 2010 despite a large 4WD protest rally and community backlash in 2008 and 2009.
Lobbying by former Member for Gympie David Gibson saw him honour a five year election promise when the beach fees, for Rainbow residents only, were repealed late last year.
Now that change is in danger.
"They have let the cat out of the bag," Mr Perrett said yesterday.
"The recommendations of the Parliamentary Agriculture and Environment Committee Report No 3, which was tabled (Wednesday), have been produced without any input or consultation from locals or the Gympie Regional Council.
"It is clear that the committee, on behalf of the Government, is searching for evidence to re-introduce charging fees for Rainbow Beach residents to access shops, facilities and services at Noosa.
He said there was an implication in the committee's recommendations that residents of Rainbow Beach are somehow not genuine residents and there were environmental and safety issues by them using the beach.
"There is some sinister implication that a community which had, according to the committee's own report, some 451 residences or 700 vehicles in the 2011 census, had been issued with 257 fee exempt permits.
"I cannot see how 257 fee exempt permits indicate any sort of over use of the scheme."
"There are more than 1200 electors on the rolls in the Rainbow Beach area which is more than 1200 people who are over the age of 18, and assuming many of them can drive, 257 permits is not excessive."
Mr Perrett is concerned the measure is an attempt to "appease city greenies".
"I am calling on the Government to rule out reintroducing fees and will be watching closely to make sure that Rainbow Beach residents will not be unfairly penalised in a bid to both appease environmental activists and make up for financial shortfalls," he said.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Should Rainbow Beach residents have to pay to use the beach? Email firstname.lastname@example.org