Coast Guard lockout
STRICKEN anglers and boaties will have to get help from Cairns due a dispute between the Coast Guard and its Port Douglas volunteers from its Dickson Inlet base.
A row has erupted after the local volunteers expressed a desire to leave the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA) and join Marine Rescue Queensland.
Former commander of the Mossman Port Douglas Coast Guard, Ross Wood claimed the governing body had taken no notice of the requirements of the community.
“They’ve gone in and physically changed the locks. We’ve been told if we go in there it’ll be classed as unlawful entry and we can’t use the boat because it’s all insured under the AVCGA,” he said.
“It’s absolutely unnecessary for them to do this, we thought we should handle this in an orderly fashion and we wanted to avoid putting the community at risk.
“All the money that we had and all the equipment we had was bought through grants with the Queensland Government or money raised locally from the community.
“A very small part of it came from the AVCGA and now they claim they own it all.”
Police, every time there is a callout for assistance on the water, have to call the Coast Guard office and ask permission to use the boat.
THE QF10 Flotilla unanimously voted to move to MRQ in hopes of gaining more freedom of control of the group.
“We want to be more autonomous so we can manage and control our own fundraising,” Mr Woods said.
“Over the years we’ve raised issues with various levels of the AVCGA management and they basically ignored us. We are aware of other groups that so fed up with the AVCGA hierarchy that they want to go to a different structure.”
All executive members of the QF10 flotilla, also known as Mossman Port Douglas Coast Guard, have also been informed to step down and cease operation.
“We will operate as normal, we’d just have a different name and we hope to be more effective under Marine Rescue Queensland,” Mr Wood said.
“When you train as a crew member or skipper with MRQ you essentially get a commercial licence allowing you to work on cruise boats.”
Squadron Administration Commodore of the North Queensland Volunteer Coast Guard Association, Jim Wickerson said all assets were protected under the AVCGA Constitution.
“…Members are free to leave and transition to MRQ but they can’t take AVCGA assets,” he said.
The AVCGA informed the Gazette QF9 Cairns will be used in an emergency.
The rebel volunteers have formed a temporary entity known as the Mossman Port Douglas Marine Safety Group to manage the transition, and assured the boating community they would work hard to return to assistance and rescue services as soon as possible.
Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan is aware of the issue but cannot intervene.
A public meeting in regards to this issue will be held on July 17 at 5pm at Mossman Community Centre in Mill St and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.