A visit by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to Brunswick Heads has been marred by an incident in which a local journalist was forcibly prevented from asking her a question, and then dragged away by security officers.
Gladys Berejiklian had come to the town to promise $3.8m to build a new surf clubhouse and $23m for mental health helplines across NSW, but declined to answer any questions about either announcement.
When BayFM journalist and occasional Echo contributor Jim Beatson, 73, approached Ms Berejiklian and attempted to ask a question about deforestation, the Premier’s security officers blocked his path.
When Mr Beatson then attempted to push his way forward to speak to the Premier, the security officers and a local lifeguard manhandled him away, pushing him back and dragging him into the clubhouse as Mr Beatson struggled and shouted ‘why can’t I ask the Premier a question?’.
The pushing and shoving continued for some minutes as a large contingent of media from across the country watched on.
Mr Beatson suffered cuts to his arms and bruising and grazes to his back during the incident.
Earlier, flanked by the Nationals candidate for Ballina, Ben Franklin, Ms Berejiklian announced funding for the state-of-the-art surf club which the club has designed.
The funding is contingent on the Coalition winning the upcoming state election.
The new club includes a large function area, a kiosk area, and extensive storage space so that the club will no longer need to store the equipment it uses for nippers in shipping containers.
A Development Application for the clubhouse is currently before Byron Shire Council, with the club hopeful of getting approval in the next few months.
The President of the surf club, Craig Reid, said the club had outgrown its raging clubhouse owing to a growth in the local population and the changes to the nature of surf life saving.
‘These days surf life saving’s moved into jet skis, drones and a lot more expensive equipment that the current building can’t store so it’s great that we can provide those services to the community,’ Mr Reid said.
Ms Berejiklian said the new club would be be integral to the local community.
‘This will be a place for people to meet, to exercise and to help train our amazing volunteers and nippers,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Mr Franklin said the new club would help make the beach safer and was a ‘huge boost for Brunswick Heads’.