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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2564

Mr MacKELLAR (Warringah) - I want to raise a matter which should be of interest and concern to all those who have extolled the virtues of Australian beaches and have benefited from the feeling of security of being watched over while using these beaches by those selfless individuals, the members of Australia's surf life saving clubs. There can be few more admirable organisations than the Australian surf life saving movement. Not only does the organisation, formed on the principle of vigilance and service, exemplify the highest ideals of man's concern for the well-being of his fellow-man; it also has saved the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people and has brought great notice and credit to this country, in a way no other organisation can emulate.

It has been the inspiration for similar movements throughout the world. It has provided an example of community service, allied with enrichment of personal skills and development of individual character of enormous significance. It has played more than a small part in the development of an Australian image reflecting great credit on this country. It is not a moribund organisation. In fact the reverse is true, as the surf life saving movement has experimented with and adopted new equipment, new techniques and new methods in response to changing knowledge and technology. For all these reasons, and many more, the surf life saving movement is deserving of our utmost respect and assistance.

I mention assistance because the surf life saving movement is experiencing severe difficulties in attaining its objectives of providing the most up to date service and protection to the maximum number of people using Australia's beaches. The organisation is suffer ing from absence of financial support in three main areas. These are the provision of basic accommodation, the provision of basic equipment and the provision of sophisticated equipment. Let us be under no misapprehension. It is through no lack of effort by club members that the clubs lack finance. In my own area of Warringah, as a patron of one of Australia's oldest and most famous clubs, the Manly Club, and a supporter of the other clubs in the electorate, I know at first hand how hard the members work to raise money. Just a few weeks ago the honourable member for Mackellar and I, together with hundreds of others, walked 10 miles in a walkathon to raise money for the power boats operated in the Warringah peninsula. Raffles, barbeques, appeals, parties - a host of methods are used by the clubs to raise money. I am glad to say that in the Manly-Warringah area, the local councils as well as local businessmen contribute significantly to club funds. But the cost of buildings, the cost of maintenance, and the cost of equipment is rising more quickly than the income of the clubs can stand. This is not confined to Manly-Warringah; this is reflected, I believe, in most areas in which clubs operate or would like to operate. Just recently the New South Wales State Centre of the surf life saving movement adopted a report from a special committee formed to investigate the financing of surf club premises and equipment.

I believe that the Federal Government should take great interest in and support some of the proposals of that committee. In essence the proposals involve three stages of development. The first stage involves consideration by local councils to provide redevelopment loans to build facilities to be known as beach pavilions. Ideally, these pavilions would include room for equipment and gear of a beach inspector with access to telephone and public address, a bunk room to accommodate 12 to 20 bunks and cooking facilities, a captain's room, a secretary's room, a committee room, female and male public dressing rooms with toilet facilities, a room for a ladies auxiliary, a locker room and internal showers for club use, an ambulance or casualty room, caretaker's and members' resident quarters, assembly room or hall with kitchen facilities, and a boat and gear room. These pavilions, to be adapted from present buildings, should be a required and accepted part of beach development. It is obvious that with increased leisure time becoming available, more and more people will use beaches and tax to the utmost the present facilities.

The second stage involves the provision of funds to build new facilities similar to the type I have outlined. Both these stages involve the co-operation of councils and State and Federal governments. What are needed are long-term loans, at little or preferably no interest, being made available to the councils and, most significantly, this not being counted as part of their normal loan allocation. In other words, special provision and special loans should be made to seaside councils specifically for the development of these beach facilities and not having the effect of reducing the councils' loan allocations for other local government work. The Commonwealth could and should readily co-operate with the State in the provision of such special loans.

The third stage deals particularly with equipment. I am not talking about basic equipment such as surf reels which are financed mostly by club members or donors, but I am speaking about sophisticated equipment of high cost such as power boats, beach buggies, towers and so on. To finance this equipment I fully concur and endorse the suggestion that a fund should be created, financed by the State and Federal governments plus contributions from the life assurance offices. There can be no argument that the life assurance offices benefit greatly from the activities of the surf life saving movement - 191,339 lives had been saved by the clubs at the time of completion of the Association's last annual report - and I can see no reason why this Government should not immediately initiate discussions with the life assurance offices aimed at reaching an understanding whereby these offices contribute to the fund I have suggested. It may mean the setting of a special levy on the life assurance companies, or other means may be preferred, but I would suggest and urge in the strongest terms that prompt action be taken.

I have not mentioned costs. I hope that my colleague, the honourable member for Mackellar, will have the time, will support me and will deal with this aspect of the suggestions I have raised tonight. I have not taken a political stance. I have sought only to present to this Government a suggestion which, if implemented, would reflect great credit on all par ties, and be of untold value to an organisation at once unique and irreplaceable.

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