Council won’t back Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve laws

Council has voted unanimously to oppose moves by the State Government to enshrine the Gold Coast’s World Surfing Reserve in legislation.

The 16km stretch of coast between Burleigh and Snapper Rocks was officially declared a World Surfing Reserve in 2016.

The government is currently seeking public feedback on introducing laws to further protect the area and has made it a key election issue on the Gold Coast.


But Councillors claim they were blindsided by the announcement and have been left out of any discussions.

“I haven’t had one word or anything from the state government directed to me or otherwise I would have brought it all to you,” Mayor Tom Tate told councillors.

Mayor Tate says the World Surfing Reserve was only ever meant to be a ceremonial designation.

“I was there every step of the way. The one point our city made was that this was a ceremonial only and there would be no legislation further than that and that was not just an understanding (it was) an agreement that all parties were involved.

“I said that at the time that if it’s not ceremonial only then you don’t have my trust or our city’s trust to take it any further and they went ‘no, no ,no we just want this to recognise the heritage of world surfing reserve area.”

Councillor Hermann Vorster, who moved the motion, said it was the city that paid for the upkeep of the beaches and it should have a say.

“We put money on the table to look after surfing more than any other level of government and it gets my blood boiling that the level of government that does the most gets absolutely robbed of the credit it deserves for doing the heavy lifting,” Councillor Vorster said.

“I think it is quite ridiculous that the government whose consent was required to secure this designation in the first place was excluded from its most significant, possible change.”

Councillor Vorster says ratepayers would carry a significant financial risk if the Gold Coast was to experience another major natural disaster that impacted our coastline.

“If the state government wants to introduce laws they should bring their cheque book.

“But I just think there is too much risk for us as a city to support legislation which may impact on our long term financial forecasts, our asset management plan. We cannot be part of that process without understanding the risks.

“I don’t know what they’re seeking to achieve which means there’s a lot of risk, and we’ve done so much without them and I don’t think we can risk the state going it alone through legislation while the poor rate payer is left with the bill.”

The Mayor will now write to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington informing them of Council’s position ahead of this weekend’s state election.