Watching a pen roll on the mapping table in the Ballina coast guard’s ‘leaning tower’ are ( from left) coast guard watch keeper Bernie Wills, Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce and Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan.
Watching a pen roll on the mapping table in the Ballina coast guard’s ‘leaning tower’ are ( from left) coast guard watch keeper Bernie Wills, Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce and Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan. Doug Eaton

Coalition comes to the rescue

IT HAS been dubbed ‘the leaning tower of Ballina’ by colourful Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce – and coast guard volunteers are sick of the sight of it.

But if the Coalition wins next week’s Federal election, the Ballina coast guard tower will be replaced by a modern new facility – with toilets – much to the delight of volunteers.

Senator Joyce and The Nationals’ candidate for the seat of Page, Kevin Hogan, met with Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Ballina Flotilla personnel and Ballina Shire Council mayor Phillip Silver yesterday to unveil a $2.5 million election promise to help build a new tower.

“It is important we acknowledge the people in Australia who go to work for nothing to protect our nation,” Senator Joyce said.

“Whether it be to protect the safety of people on our seas, or protect our borders by asking questions of people who are stooging around and look suspicious.

“The coast guard is a brilliant organisation. The observation tower here, as good a job as it has done, is starting to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“Kevin Hogan has been pestering us saying this is a good bunch of people, that we should be doing our bit to help these people along. So we have said with an election win a Coalition government will put $2.5 million towards the construction of a new tower.”

Volunteers currently use a seemingly 90-degree ladder to reach the top control room of the tower and they say there are a number of occupational, health and safety issues.

Standing beside the outdated coast guard tower, Senator Joyce managed to slip in a jibe at Labor.

“I think it is important to note, Kevin Rudd needed a tower like this to save himself from Julia Gillard,” he said.

Mr Hogan stood beside Senator Joyce as the funding announcement was made.

“The building looks like it is close to being condemned,” Mr Hogan said.

“The community has been right behind this project, and they have raised $80,000 to $90,000 over three or four years, and here is a real injection of money into this community for people crossing this bar.”

Plans for a new coast guard tower have already been drafted by a Byron Bay architect. The new tower will incorporate a toilet block and cafe.

Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Ballina Flotilla deputy commander Joan Hurley is impressed with the plans.

“We were all thinking it would be something very modest. This is beyond our wildest dreams,” she said.



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