Issues of queue jumping, the allocation of Tweed Shire Council’s resources in both time and money, and responding to the ‘squeaky wheel’ were all raised during the debate about disability beach access at Casuarina.
Cr Warren Polglase and Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes brought a motion to provide public toilets at the Icon building, allocate $40,000 for two showers at beach access points six and eight and pursue a ‘viewing platform and disabled access at beach entry 6’.
Cr Polglase argued that the viewing platform and disability beach access were ‘visionary’. He said that with the Kings Forest development on its way that Council ‘need to provide the necessary [facilities for] all types of people including those with disabilities’.
Kingscliff’s needs greater
However, Cr James Owen (Liberal) supported by Mayor Chris Cherry moved an amendment that kept the public toilets, reduced the shower to one. They proposed an alternative to the Casuarina Viewing Platform and instead recommended pursuing the ‘master planning process for the Kingscliff Voluntary Marine Rescue tower and surrounding beach access’. This would also include ‘shower facilities and car park to improve accessibility and amenity’.
‘I contest that this [viewing platform and beach access] is needed in the area of Casuarina,’ Cr Owen told the meeting.
‘I live in Casuarina and I haven’t been approached by anyone but the lobby group/individual pushing for this. I don’t think there is an overwhelming desire for that at this area. Access 6 is all natural and beautiful with natural dunes. It is all beautiful and open and you really feel at one with the environment and nature there.
‘I was down there on 14 December  and I got video where waves were going way past where the sign is. They [the lobby group] say the water hasn’t been anyway near the [proposed] platform, which isn’t true. You’d have to go way back, then cut down the trees and damage the dunes to do this. Why would we allow something like this to take place here?
‘Casuarina gets a lot of things, we are pretty well served,’ he told the meeting.
Figures don’t add up
Cr Owen said he had been approached by a number of people at Kingscliff seeking support for the rejuvenation of that iconic area. He pointed out that they already had $1.1m in repairs ‘why build another structure, lets fix up what we’ve got already’.
Mayor Cherry highlighted that the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) identified on two per cent of the population identifying as having a disability where there was 14 per cent at Kingscliff.
Issues of queue jumping ‘because we’ve been lobbied by an individual’ and ‘responding to the squeaky wheel’ were raised.
‘There are hundreds of projects that have been waiting to be funded,’ said Cr Milne.
Cr Milne said that the community members have been putting forward numerous projects that the council didn’t have the capacity to fund and that they should be ‘talking about doing things in strategic and priority order… We just can’t respond to the squeaky wheel’.
Speaking to The Echo Mayor Milne said ‘for me, it is not the time for this structure [at Casurina] to be built. If the demand is there in the future, of course it will be reconsidered.
‘At present, the numbers simply don’t stack up, hence my support of the alternative motion which includes consideration of a similar facility in Kingscliff, where both the beach erosion and need are addressed better by the $7.5M investment in the seawall which protects this area of foreshore.’