Cooloola 4WD President Rodney Forward has started a petition against the introduction of beach fees at Rainbow Beach.
Cooloola 4WD President Rodney Forward has started a petition against the introduction of beach fees at Rainbow Beach. Craig Warhurst

National revolt on beach fees

THE foot soldiers who saved the Cooloola National Park, back in the Bjelke-Petersen era, have been betrayed by their generals - and they are not happy about it.

As the Noosa Parks Association tells it, the park was saved after NPA agitators motivated four-wheel drivers, fishers and surfers from all across Queensland to protect the area from development.

Now, the NPA, which secretly recommended the controversial beach access fees announced recently by Sustainability Minister Kate Jones, appears to have turned its back on the people it and its close Labor Party associates used.

Four-wheel drivers yesterday indicated strongly they are now in the midst of harnessing similar forces and strategies to protect the vehicle access rights, which for years seemed to be guaranteed.

With the additional help of the internet, they have launched a massive national protest campaign against the recently-announced beach vehicle access fees.

Rod Forward of the Cooloola 4WD Club, affiliated with Four-Wheel Drive Queensland, yesterday accused the government of “restricting the right of ordinary people to experience the environment”.

The fees follow secret government advice, exposed exclusively in The Gympie Times, calling for beach vehicle fees.

The advice came from a committee heavily stacked with government and NPA representatives, although some NPA committee members were misleadingly described in government documents as “community” representatives.

“We’ve been formally notified on Monday that our e-petition is up and operating and already has 431 names,” Mr Forward said, as one more driver registered a protest – “make that 432”.

By 3.15pm yesterday, another 21 names had been added. “It’s going up about 100 a day,” Mr Forward said in Gympie yesterday.

“They say they’re going to upgrade facilities with the permit fees. Well that’s what camping fees were supposed to do.

All these fees are going to do is pay the wages of the people collecting them and enforcing the new rules.

“It’s not going to achieve a damned thing,” he said.

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