Nick Carroll: Gold Coast up for Possible Legal Surf Zone Protection

12 Feb 2020 3 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Photo uploaded to the CW User Photo Gallery by NATRAT

Photo uploaded to the CW User Photo Gallery by NATRAT

COASTALWATCH | NICK CARROLL

From the GWC2020: The Law's On Our Side

Remember the Parliamentary Friends of Surfing?

Seems like surfing has more such friends than most of us knew.

I am gleaning this from the big news item of the morning at yesterday’s Global Wave Conference 2020 opening day.

To wit: The Queensland Government is to explore legislation in support of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve.

This would mean actual legally enforceable protection of an entire surf zone, pretty much just because the surf gets good.

Nothing like it exists anywhere else in Australia, other than the Bells Beach surfing recreation reserve, signed off by the Victorian government in 1971, and carefully ignored by every government since.

The announcement was made by Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk along with her Minister for Sport, Mick de Brenni, who’s been tasked with figuring out the legislation. "I don't want to see it disturbed in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years' time,” Ms Palaszczuk told the presser. “I want to make sure that this area of the coast is absolutely protected as a surf reserve."

Mick told CW he’d initially be relying on advice and research from the WSR board, before taking a draft of the legislation through public consultation, and eventually before the State Parliament. Asked how long this might take, he said: “(The Premier) told me to get it done as soon as we could.”

There’s clearly a political advantage in this for the government. They have a semi-star candidate for Currumbin, Kaylee Campradt, and Ms Palaszczuk made a point of tying Kaylee’s star to the idea. It’s another way they can separate themselves from the opposition.

YOU WOULDN’T HAVE GOT A QLD GOVERNMENT ON SIDE WHEN HE WAS A KID, YOU’D HAVE GOT THE COPS COMING AROUND TO KICK THE DOOR DOWN...

But if you’re in the business of trying to protect surf spots, you take your wins where you find ‘em, and GWC chair Andrew McKinnon was understandably chuffed. “It’s a huge win!” he kept saying.

Watching Andrew through the day, I kept thinking how his own evolution — from the junior surf star, MP confidante and cruisy surf hippie of the 1970s, to the endlessly optimistic networker of 2020 — partly mirrors surfing’s own evolution. You wouldn’t have got a Qld government on side when he was a kid, you’d have got the cops coming around to kick the door down instead.

Now you have a Sports Minister who’d been surfing out Snapper before the press conference. And who says things like this: “As a surfer and as the Minister for Sport, I hear from a lot of people that they would like to see ongoing protection and conservation of our wave zones, our beaches and everything that surrounds them.”

Never thought I’d see the day either.

(More from the Global Wave Conference in the next coupla days.)

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