Media Release - 13 October 2020
Tamara Smith MP is calling on Ballina Shire Council to immediately implement locals only Permits for 4WD access on all South Ballina Beaches. The Richmond police share her concern about public safety on the beach given the vast number of vehicles monitored during Operation Thor over the October long weekend and believe it is only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt.
Ms Smith said, “Time is up for the status quo and it is extremely disappointing that Crown Land and Ballina Shire Council have been unable to come up with a long term solution to a severe public safety issue that has been highlighted repeatedly by me, residents, Jali Land Council, environmentalists and the broader community for a number of years.”
“I will not stand by and wait for somebody to be hurt before action is taken and I am calling on Ballina Shire Council to introduce a permit system immediately for locals and Aboriginal members of our community only. Ideally, Crown Land would have resolved this by now but they have not and as it is a residential safety issue primarily I think that Council needs to step up and be the responsible adult in this situation.” said Ms Smith.
“The enforcement operation by the Richmond Area Command through Operation Thor over the October long weekend was disturbingly insightful. The police were on patrol only a few hours at a time over 3 days yet 150 vehicles were stopped for random breath tests. That’s more than 50 vehicles a day on the beach just in those short windows of time!!! Sorry that is outrageous.”
“Our beaches are for residents and visitors to enjoy walking and swimming and hand fishing and we all accept that locals may responsibly drive down to fish. But driving up and down the beach and the dune bashing that we see is crazy and the sheer numbers of out of towners on the beach is out of control and will only increase with “staycations”.
“We also know that there are huge environmental impacts from this type of vehicle intensity and threats to the already endangered Pied Oyster Catchers as well as the dunal system, and of course impacts on Aboriginal heritage.”
“How great would it be for Jali or another local Aboriginal led enterprise to start running low key Aboriginal cultural tours along the beach.”
“I have seen with my own eyes resident’s fences knocked down to make way for dune tracks for beach bashing. We have nothing against people loving to drive their 4WD’s but our beaches are not 4WD Parks or tracks. There is a business opportunity for somebody in the hinterland in an appropriate setting to create a 4WD Park and tracks but it sure as heck should not be at South Ballina beaches.”