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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2565

Mr RIORDAN (Phillip) - I am very happy to join with the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) tonight in making a special plea for a group of dedicated young men. From time to lime a great deal is said about the shortcomings of the youth of this country, yet along the 20 miles or so of the coastline around Sydney every weekend hundreds of young men give unselfishly of their time in devotion to the cause of the protection of others. These young men protect those who are participating in recreation and sport against the dangers of the surf. The dangers of the surf are real; they are not imaginary. Without these young men and their constant vigilance one could not estimate the number of lives that would possibly be lost through drowning, shark attack or other mishaps that can occur in the surf.

These young men patrol the beaches; they ensure good conduct in the water; they ensure the safety of our citizens. Not only that, these men and youths assist in the development of still younger people - the children - in the sport of surfing, in the recreation of the surf and the beach, and also in the development of a spirit of service to other men and women. What is of concern is the assistance they can expect from the Government. One who preceded me as the member for Phillip, now Senator Joe Fitzgerald, first advocated Commonwealth Government assistance for the surf life saving movement in this country. He succeeded in that the previous government started a form of aid which has been continued. That aid, valuable though it is, is not sufficient for the purposes of the life saving movement. That aid goes almost exclusively to the administration of the Surf Life Saving Association. Valuable though that may be, more assistance is needed. The assistance is needed on the beach where immediate help is given to those in difficulty.

As the honourable member for Warringah has said, this is not merely a political matter. It is a matter which should attract the sympathetic attention of all members of this House. This is a life saving service. This is a service which truly saves lives. It also saves injury. It is active in the development of the personalities and the bodies of the youth of this country. The life savers should not be dependent on charity for their continued existence or on the whim of business or on the decision of some benefactor to hand out occasionally a donation. These people are entitled to the support of the community. The only way in which adequate community support can be given is through the attention of this Parliament.

Each weekend during the summer months we watch a very vigorous and spectacular sport. It is a great recreation for those who want to watch the surf carnivals. It is a wonderful recreation and a very healthy exercise for those who wish to participate in the sport. Those who participate need this assistance. In this country we have the greatest beaches in the world and we have the greatest band of men voluntarily giving their services every weekend. They deserve the support of this Parliament.

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