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  • Dale Last

Marine rescue volunteers left in uncharted waters

Thousands of volunteers who were promised a new way forward in marine rescue have been left in uncharted waters and no clarity on the future according to Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Dale Last.

As the July 1 deadline for the first VMR squadrons and AVCG flotillas to transition to the new Marine Rescue Queensland approaches, Mr Last said crews, radio operators and skippers had been left in the dark about what the transition would look like and how it would operate.

“It’s been more than five years since Campbell Darby handed down his report into the marine rescue sector and since then we’ve seen volunteers offered lip service, the services of marine rescue moved from QFES to police service responsibilities and countless pie-in-the-sky promises from this state government,” Mr Last said.

“Despite the changes to the responsible agency, there has been a consistent minister at the helm of this ship for the last four years who has failed to provide any sort of clear direction forward for volunteers, let alone the communities that rely on their services.”

“The Minister has stated on several occasions that July 1 would see the new marine rescue entity commence but volunteers are yet to be provided with transitional agreements for consideration and legislation governing the new entity is still to be debated in parliament.

“At the heart of all of this is volunteers who go out in rough conditions to save lives at sea and the communities who for years have supported and fundraised for new boats and assets.”

Mr Last said after hearing first-hand from both Australian Volunteer Coast Guard members and Volunteer Marine Rescue it was clear that a lack of consultation and direction had left a sour taste in the mouths of crews and leaders within both blue water rescue organisations.

“While the government may have us think that the transition to bring about one entity for marine rescue in Queensland is smooth sailing what we are seeing at the coal face could best be described as nothing but shifting goal posts and lip service by this state government.”

“We are lucky in Queensland to have some of the greatest coastlines to enjoy but, just as we do if we got into trouble on our roads, we need assurances that if tragedy strikes help is on the way and that falls squarely in the hands of the Minister.”

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