Media Release - 25 March 2021
The Member for Ballina has welcomed the decision by NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, Crown Lands, Ballina Shire Council and Richmond Valley Council to close the 30km stretch of coast between South Ballina and Evans Head to 4WD’s and other vehicles.
Ms Smith said, “I applaud the multi-agency decision to restrict vehicles on South Ballina Beach and thank all of the residents and community members that have worked with my office over the last 6 years to advocate for better public safety and protection of Aboriginal Heritage and endangered species severely impacted by ever increasing vehicle traffic. “
“Excessive numbers of 4WD vehicles on our beaches have posed a danger to the community and beachgoers. There has not been a week gone by in my office where I haven’t received a phone call, email or letter from a concerned constituent about; public safety on South Ballina beach, destruction to Aboriginal cultural sites, the endangered Pied oystercatchers or the negative impact on the environment”, said Ms Smith.
“In 2015 I spoke on the floor of parliament about the tragic death of community legend, and my dear friend, Jenny Caldwell. At 68 years of age she was competing in triathlons and ocean treks around the world but was killed by a four-wheel drive while walking along Stockton Beach north of Newcastle. Excessive numbers of 4WDs on highly populated beaches, first and foremost, affects public safety”.
“The enforcement operation by the Richmond Area Command through Operation Thor over the October 2021 long weekend last year 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, which is an alarming statistic.”
“Our beaches are for residents and visitors to enjoy walking and swimming, but driving up and down the beach and dune bashing is crazy and the sheer number of out of towners on the beach is out of control. We are not talking about local fisher men and women, I know many good-hearted recreational fishers will support the closure of South Ballina beach. Often they are the first responders when ocean and wildlife have been injured by 4WD destruction or dogs. Beach access will be provided for parking and walking onto the beach at the closure point. ”.
“During COVID-19 there was a reprieve for vulnerable species and their food sources, locals saw increases in the number of pied oystercatchers and mixed species flocks of birds. Most of these sightings disappeared once vehicles returned to the beach”.
“The local Aboriginal communities and their allies have been very concerned about the destruction of culturally significant sites along the foreshore of South Ballina Beach”.
I would like to thank all the organisations, Individuals and agencies who have tirelessly worked on this issue and kept my office updated on the status of South Ballina Beach over the last 6-years.
“This is a win for the whole community”. Ms Smith said