Save Wollongong Beaches
Save Wollongong Beaches
The beach is there to share.
The Council's plan for a bar on the beach is unAustralian - it's divisive, elitist and will slap fees on locals to use a beach they can already use for free.
The plan for a "summer beach club" on Wollongong City beaches, is a plan to privatise our beaches - transferring control of these public spaces to private hands - and locking it up for the exclusive use of fee paying clients.
- It's unAustralian. Australian beaches have been permanently free for everyone. We don't sell things on our beaches. We don't lock them up behind fences. An iconic symbol of Australia - where wealth, age, gender, race, language & faith just don't matter. At least they shouldn't. This proposal is an exclusionary and divisive attack on Australian egalitarianism. Locking up 1%, 2%, 10% of a beach for one group fee paying people excludes pensioners, students, children and families, it excludes people with limited incomes, and entire faith groups who don't drink alcohol - and so it divides us too. That's just unAustralian.
- It's privatisation. The council are proposing turning our public beach, into a for-private-profit licensed bar. We all know that when a government privatises an asset, we never get it back. No matter what assurances we're given now, we've seen this show before. Councillor Walters called the beach "prime real estate", but it's not that, it's public space and should be kept for everyone to share.
- it's just the beginning. How long before the operators of the beach bar ask for more space, and then a little more? How long before people say 'we'd get better service if there was competition, we need a second beach bar' and then a third?, or 'We'll use the profits to subsidise our surf clubs', and so-on. No matter what assurances are given at this point, this is the thin end of the wedge, one bar leads to a second, and it makes the next attack on our public spaces easier.
- Council banned alcohol from our beaches in 2018. But why? Was it for public safety? Was it to moderate anti-social behaviour? Was it to stop people drink-swimming? What's changed? Is it okay to drink on the beaches now? Will council be ending the alcohol ban for the whole beach, every beach, or just for the people who can afford to buy drinks at the private beach bar?
An alternative vision:
Don't lock up our beaches for private use. Keep them public. Keep them there for all of us to share. Here's two alternative steps council should consider:
- If council feels strongly that ending alcohol prohibition on our beaches is important, then consult the community on ending alcohol free zones on our beaches. Let the community have its say.
- If council feels strongly that deck chairs and umbrellas would improve the amenity of our beaches, run a hire shop, or provide seed funding for a small business to do it.
We're opposed to the Wollongong City Council plan to privatise our beaches.