MP Dickson confirms Cooloola Coast beach fees 'here to stay'
THE State Government yesterday dismissed doubt in the Rainbow Beach business community about its Cooloola National Park vehicle access fees.
Parks Minister Steve Dickson confirmed the accuracy of reports that the fees are here to stay, but may be streamlined.
He was responding to a claim from one Rainbow Beach business operator that the Minister denied making the statement and had apologised to Beach interests over a report in Saturday's The Gympie Times..
"I've just contacted the Minister and he hasn't spoken to anyone," a spokeswoman said yesterday.
"Our position has not altered," she said.
The report in question was based on the following written email response from Mr Dickson's media adviser:
"Please find a statement below which can be attributed to a spokesperson for the minister:
"Vehicle access permits generate income which is reinvested in national parks.
"The state government has consistently said that it does not have any intention of removing these permits. However, the Minister has flagged an intention to simplify and streamline the process".
The fees were met with outrage when first put forward under a Labor Government, including protests and beach driving demonstrations at Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point.
Compromises satisfied some critics, with alterations to some proposed beach closures near D.I. and along sections of Inskip Point.
A protest convoy of 4WD vehicles travelled down the beach to the point and back, amid business claims that the town's prosperity was in the balance and its business community could not afford the fees, which would discourage tourism.
At the time, Labor Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara said the fees "would go towards maintaining the Cooloola Region".
But his then Opposition counterpart, Gympie MP David Gibson said the Labor Government had a poor record on that score.
"They've got no form, they've got no history that could give Queenslanders confidence that they will spend the money on improving services," Mr Gibson said in 2008.
Commerce and Tourism Association president Scott Elms said the town was at that time still reeling from the use of government powers to evict campers from Inskip Point, when the cyclone they were concerned about had not and did not result in any emergency alert.