Surf lifesaver Britt Brymer prepares for the busy summer surf season on the Gold Coast. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Surf lifesaver Britt Brymer prepares for the busy summer surf season on the Gold Coast. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Lifesavers blast LNP and Labor over funding miss

SURF lifesavers have blasted the major parties for ignoring pleas for a pledge on funding, saying their volunteer service is being "taken for granted".

In an unprecedented move, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) will today call on its 31,000-strong membership to exert pressure on Labor and the LNP to promise more support for the iconic volunteer group should they gain power.

SLSQ chief executive officer John Brennan told The Courier-Mail that the major parties had been approached for help, but no concrete response had been received.

Mr Brennan said the last boost in funds was under Anna Bligh in 2009 and since then beach visitation had doubled, bolstered by a surge in tourist numbers.

He said SLSQ provided a service no tourism or government department could afford on its own, but in the past two state elections there had been no increased funding.

"Our plea is simple: please stop taking this essential service for granted.

"Our volunteers need more funds to keep up with the rising costs of equipment and training. We've had to expand the size of each patrol and the hours of patrols during peak periods to protect the greater numbers of beachgoers."

Surf Life Saving Queensland is launching a campaign to stop the Barmy army getting into trouble at the beach. Britt Brymer, Rebekah Austin and Nathan Fife are pictured. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Surf Life Saving Queensland is launching a campaign to stop the Barmy army getting into trouble at the beach. Britt Brymer, Rebekah Austin and Nathan Fife are pictured. Picture: Nigel Hallett

For the past 30 years, SLSQ has received $2.98 million per annum from the Queensland Government under a service agreement. This is shared between 58 clubs, six regional branches and the state operations centre.

The Bligh Government in 2009 provided an additional $1.7 million per year to support extra operational services outside of patrols and reduce insurance premiums. The re-elected Bligh government also gifted a $6 million helicopter and provided an extra $400,000 to improve surveillance and patrols in the southeast.

Mr Brennan said this year, for the first time in 30 years, the State Government had locked in a CPI rate of 2.5 per cent, but this still left "a large historical shortfall" on the vital equipment SLSQ and its clubs needed in light of population and tourism growth.



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