Lifeguard cut backs near Agnes beach where girl drowned
A BEACH that's popular with tourists and swimmers all year round will no longer be patrolled by surf lifesavers during the week.
Funding for lifesavers at Agnes Water Beach dries up on Monday, and Surf Life Saving Queensland says it can no longer afford to subsidise the service after a request for an additional $30,000 was rejected by the council.
It means the beach, which attracted 44,000 people during the winter months last year, will now only be patrolled on weekends from May to September.
That's despite the number of rescues during the winter months increasing from just three in 2014, to 21 during the same period last year.
It's also just weeks after an 18-year-old Bundaberg woman drowned at Agnes Water while snorkelling on the nearby, unpatrolled Workman's Beach.
Surf lifesavers from Agnes Water were closest and assisted in the rescue effort although attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.
Patrolling the main beaches at Tannum Sands and Agnes Water already costs the council $200,000 a year and Mayor Matt Burnett said while the patrols were a "valuable service" the extra funding "wasn't in the budget".
"It's the responsibility of all levels of government and ratepayers shouldn't be paying for patrols 365 days a year," Cr Burnett said.
However local governments are the main source of funding contributions for life saving; and as the cash strapped councils tighten their belts SLSQ has been forced to up its own contributions to avoid cutting services.
Now, however, it says the burden is too great.
Chief lifesaver Greg Cahill said a review showed SLSQ couldn't afford to keep subsidising the funding at all of Queensland's beaches.
"We believe the beach should be patrolled and the people we speak to at Agnes Water agree," Mr Cahill said.
"But we have to make a decision on what our funding will allow us to do."