Govt goes soft on beach fees
THE new LNP state government this week appeared to go soft on its promise to end economically devastating vehicle access fees on the beach between Rainbow Beach and Noosa.
National Parks and Recreation Minister Steve Dickson appeared to resist pressure from Gympie MP David Gibson on the issue, when both MPs addressed Parliament on Thursday.
He said the LNP government would "minimise" the permit system.
"Eliminate" was the word embattled Rainbow Beach businesses wanted to hear.
And it is what Mr Gibson promised, both before and after the March state election.
"The beach permit fees at Rainbow Beach will be one of the first pieces of unnecessary and inefficient regulation to be put forward for removal as part of the LNP's plan to cut red tape and regulation by 20%," he told The Gympie Times two days after the poll.
Mr Gibson kept the pressure up on Thursday when he told Parliament the fees, which apply to beach driving between Noosa and Rainbow Beach, had caused "an adverse impact on tourism numbers within the Rainbow Beach area".
He said beach tourism providers had been "doing it tough" in recent months, also partly because of adverse weather for tourism.
He said Labor's announcement of beach vehicle fees had been met with public protests, four petitions and 4WD protests along the beach.
"It is clear that if we do not change the current policy we will have a long-term detrimental impact upon tourism related businesses at Rainbow Beach," he said.
"In opposition, the LNP was constantly critical of Labor's Recreation Areas Management Act ... I am confident the LNP government will not walk away from the people of Rainbow Beach," he said.
Mr Dickson, however, was far from clear on what he plans to do, despite Mr Gibson's clear pre-election indications that the fees would go.
"We are going to minimise the permit system," he said.
The relatively non-committal answer is unlikely to be good enough for Rainbow Beach businesses or their customers, like Glen Echo surfer and fisherman Sam Warne, whose letter calling for the fees to end is published on Page 10.