MP calls for more VMR funding, government says it already is
DALE Last has called on the State Government to meet the funding shortfall needed for a new Bowen Volunteer Marine Rescue vessel, however the government has responded they have already committed a considerable amount of funds.
Bowen Volunteer Marine Rescue have spent the last two years deep in fundraising efforts for a new rescue vessel, with an expected cost of about $530,000 after associated costs and slipway upgrades.
Planned to replace the outgoing vessel, the new boat would allow the Bowen VMR to continue to assist the community for many years to come.
Mr Last said there was “still some way to go” before the new vessel could be purchased, despite the hard work of VMR members and the generous support of businesses and the community.
“What we have in Bowen is a group of volunteers who put themselves at risk to keep others safe and it’s about time they had the resources they need in order to perform that valuable service,” Mr Last said.
“One of the issues highlighted in the recent Blue Water Review was the huge burden placed on groups like VMR Bowen to fund raise for new vessels. This is an opportunity for the state government to show that they have actually taken notice of the report.”
“We have a government commissioned report that says ‘you can’t buy a $600,00 boat just from selling sausages’ yet that is exactly what VMR Bowen are doing in an effort to provide the best services for the boating community.”
“If we want to get serious about the opportunities that boating provides then we need to ensure there are the services in place in the event of a problem.”
However a spokesman from Queensland Fire and Emergency said more than $160,000 had already been pledged to the community organisation, with another $150,000 under review.
The Queensland Government provides financial support to Volunteer Marine Rescue Association of Queensland (VMRAQ) through a Service Agreement administered by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES). Under the Service Agreement, VMRAQ remains an independent volunteer organisation.
“VMR Bowen receives a share of the operational funding provided to the VMRAQ within the Service Agreement. The disbursement of this sits with the VMRAQ State Council,” the3 spokesman said.
The spokesman said QFES has not received a request to assist with funding a new vessel directly from VMR Bowen, however under the current service agreement, VMRAQ have indicated it will provide $160,000 from Queensland Government funding towards the cost of the Bowen replacement vessel.
The spokesman also confirmed QFES is currently considering a request from the VMRAQ State Treasurer for an additional $150,000 towards the cost of the vessel.
“QFES is awaiting final costings and timings for commissioning of the boat build from VMRAQ before finalising any additional funding,” he said.
Bowen VMR president Ian Shield said he didn’t mind where the money came from, as long as it assisted the organisation reaching its goal.
“We’re still talking to potential donors, organising fundraising initiatives and moving closer to obtaining the vessel,” he said.
“The government has always put in some form of funding for a new vessel, and while I’m not sure it will happen, if they decide they have more to give, we won’t be knocking it back.
“Until then nothing has changed and we’re still looking to meet our goal.”