FLOAT ON: John Purnell, of Coastguard Kingscliff, says his crew are fighting plans to join the unit with Marine Rescue NSW.
FLOAT ON: John Purnell, of Coastguard Kingscliff, says his crew are fighting plans to join the unit with Marine Rescue NSW.

Kingscliff Coastguard stands firm on decision

COASTGUARD Kingscliff commander-elect John Purnell is adament his unit won't be joining Marine Rescue NSW which began taking over coastguards in 2009 despite "three years of harassment" as he and his crew had no faith in or respect for the organisation.

Mr Purnell said public safety would not be compromised as they would still attend all marine emergencies in their area and he had been assured by local police that they would be called in when needed.

"We don't have any faith in the reform process," he said.

"We're a very well set up unit; one of the biggest units in NSW and they (Marine Rescue) want it for nothing.

"My members have voted three times that they want to stay with Coastguard. I've got to go with the wishes of my flotilla."

He said his organisation's training and training records were up to date and "in some cases of a higher standard than required by Marine Rescue".

The formation of Marine Rescue NSW sought to incorporate three voluntary marine rescue organisations into one body - Australian Volunteer Coastguard, Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol and Volunteer Rescue Association.

Kingscliff is one of four groups who have resisted the move, despite it being a major recommendation of the 2008 Price Report into the volunteer marine rescue movement.

Marine Rescue commissioner Stacey Tannos said they had made numerous attempts to remove the Coastguard's impediments to joining but in the end they had always been rebuffed which he believed was for political reasons.

"They appear to be holding their ground purely for status reasons for the national body and for themselves," Commissioner Tannos said.

He said the reform process was driven by the need to better manage callouts and marine rescues not to usurp the power and independence of rescue groups.

But he said it was an internal dispute that would not impact on public safety.



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