Coast Guard lock­out

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Gizelle Ghidella

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.

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