Coast Guard stalemate continues


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A public meeting will be held in Mossman tonight to discuss a dispute between local volunteers and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association. IMAGE: Newsport.
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A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Mossman this afternoon to discuss a dispute between local marine rescue volunteers and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA).

Port Douglas volunteers have been locked out of the AVCGA’s Dicksons Inlet base for more than a week after they voted to leave the administration to join ‘a more bottom up’ focused Marine Rescue Queensland.

The AVCGA has now frozen the use of its equipment and ‘changed the locks on the building’, according to volunteer John Clifford.

It followed a decision from the local group, otherwise known as the Mossman Port Douglas Coast Guard, to transfer their affiliations to the new body.

“We got tired of the autocratic and authoritarian style of the (AVCGA),” he said.

“They’ve now suspended everyone without giving any reason. It’s extraordinary the extent to which the Australian coast guard has reacted.”

The lockout currently affects 16 people and two boats in Port Douglas.

The AVCGA has stated its assets can’t be used if members wished to switch to another association. Local volunteers argue the assets ‘in every sense belong to the community’ having been acquired through Government funding and community fundraising.

A meeting will be held at the Mossman Community Centre from 5pm today to discuss the situation.

Another former Commander of the Port Douglas volunteer group, Ross Wood, said a move to Marine Rescue Queensland would give them more autonomy.

“It’s essentially a group of local associations, you are not getting layers and layers of enforcement (of the AVCGA),” he said.

“We can also raise more money locally, as currently we have to go and raise money at the national and state squadrons.”

A rescue boat from Cairns will be used in a marine emergency while the impasse continues. 

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