No more beach fees for Rainbow locals
RAINBOW Beach residents will be exempt from beach fees as of next month.
Retiring Member for Gympie David Gibson announced yesterday that eligible Rainbow Beach residents could start applying for fee-free vehicle access permits for the Cooloola Recreation Area (for Rainbow Beach to Noosa North Shore), with changes to come into effect on November 3.
Locals were delighted yesterday.
"There is a god," Rainbow Beach business icon Ruth Modin said yesterday.
And, at the other end of town, seafood retailer Sandy Brosnan was similarly delighted at news that beach fees to Double Island point and beyond would be removed for Rainbow Beach residents.
"It may not be the perfect result, but it is a tremendous thing for local people.
"I want to thank (MP) David Gibson for never, ever giving up," Mrs Modin said.
"I'm thrilled to bits that David has won out," Mrs Brosnan said. "He supported us through thick and thin."
Both gave enthusiastic credit to Mr Gibson and National Parks and Recreation Minister Steve Dickson.
Mr Gibson said he had been overjoyed when he heard the news yesterday.
"Since coming into Government over two and half years ago, I have fought hard to secure these changes and I want to thank Minister (Steve) Dickson and his department for delivering on the commitment," Mr Gibson said.
"The lifting of the vehicle access permits to drive on the beach will save eligible residents up to $226 a year and is likely to make a significant difference to local people living in Rainbow Beach worried about their bills.
"This is money better spent in the town and in reality the new exemption will only mean a small reduction in Government revenue, as only about $14,000 or 1% of the Cooloola vehicle permit fee revenue comes from Rainbow Beach locals."
Mr Gibson said this was one of the items on his "to do" list to achieve before he left politics next year.
"Understandably the public get cynical about politicians making promises during election campaigns," Mr Gibson said.
"When I made that promise during the 2009 election I had every intention of honouring it and every day since I've held myself to do my best to realise it. Now over five years later I'm glad to say that I have delivered before I depart at the next election.
"Locals have been campaigning against the fees since before the permits were introduced, and they will now join a list of people and organisations already eligible for vehicle permit fee exemptions, such as the Surf Life Saving Club and drivers with school groups," he said.
Mr Gibson said fee-free permits would be issued for a maximum term of one year at a time, and permits would still be required for non-residents.
Details of how to claim the fee exemption, and how to obtain a pro rata refund on existing annual permits with more than three months remaining, are available at www.nprsr.qld.gov.au or by calling 13 QGOV (137468) or visiting a QPWS office.