Fine beach idiots, says Clarence MP
By MARY MANN
'BLATANTLY stupid' beach-goers who swim in dangerous conditions on closed beaches should be fined, according to Clarence MP Steve Cansdell.
His call comes after more than 3000 people have been warned by Far North Coast lifeguards for swimming in dangerous surf this week alone.
"By ignoring lifeguard's directions, they're not only putting themselves at risk, they're putting the lives of those who would rescue them at risk too," he said.
But northern NSW lifeguard coordinator Stephen Leahy said while lifeguards and lifesavers had the authority to issue on the spot fines under the Local Government Act, it was not their role to police the beaches.
"We don't have the resources to go fining everybody, and we don't want to be police," Mr Leahy said.
"We just want people to enjoy the beach and to make sure they're doing it safely."
But Mr Leahy warned if an individual or group of people on a beach continued to put themselves in danger, lifeguards may call on the assistance of police or local council rangers, who would fine them.
"It's frustrating when people continue to ignore our safety directions," Mr Leahy said.
"There have been a couple of times recently where lifeguards have been ignored, and one was abused by a man at Suffolk Park.
"The man was asked not to swim in a dangerous section of surf, and then he quite openly threatened the lifeguard and made threatening gestures at him."
Most North Coast beaches are still closed.
Dangerous surf conditions are tipped to continue for several more days.