Lifesavers 'may turn off tourists'

Katie Schmidt and her father Paul try to block out the noise from lifesavers’ loudspeakers at at Kings Beach.
Katie Schmidt and her father Paul try to block out the noise from lifesavers’ loudspeakers at at Kings Beach. Nicholas Falconer

LIKE most Australians, Katie Schmidt knows how important lifesavers are on our beaches.

But the bride-to-be is fed up with the way Met Caloundra's volunteers have been going about getting their message across, particularly during the recent big seas.

Ms Schmidt has written to Surf Life Saving officials and the Sunshine Coast Council, saying some of the lifesavers were "incompetent" and "power-hungry" in their quest to protect Kings Beach.

She also feared they were turning tourists away.

A former volunteer lifesaver and firefighter, Ms Schimdt has called for the Caloundra club's practices to be investigated "for the benefit of locals, surfers and tourists".

She said on Monday "some irate woman screamed into the microphone for a surfer to get out the water" at 8.15am.

"She screamed again and again ... at a time when a lot of people would have been trying to enjoy a late-morning lie-in," Ms Schmidt said.

"I completely understand the beach is closed for swimmers.

"But my understanding is it's a recommendation, not a legally enforceable law.

"The volunteer lifesaver was screaming down the microphone - waking every possible tourist in town - at a surfer who was enjoying himself, and was clearly more than competent."

She said it wasn't the first time something like that had happened.

"About three weeks ago the club had a Nippers day and shut down one-third of the entire beach for about 100 Nippers," Ms Schmidt said.

"They had more than enough room, yet they still managed to get into an argument with a surfer who encroached safely and respectfully into their area of the flags."

"It's not good enough. Met Caloundra needs a review if you want to keep tourists and surfers here."

Surf Lifesaving Sunshine Coast duty officer Dave McLean said he made no apology for lifesavers doing their job.

He said he would talk to the Caloundra club's committee, but said the loudspeaker was a "useful tool in stopping people getting into trouble".

"Lifesavers are putting their lives at risk to help," he said.

Ms Schmidt said perhaps it was time for paid lifeguards to take over.

"They seem to manage to keep everyone safe and keep the peace year round without all of this hassle and annoyance."

Topics:  beach kings beach sunshine coast regional council surf life saving tourists

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