VMR 'in no man’s land' until government review finalised
THE essential lifesaving service provided by the Gladstone Volunteer Marine Rescue might need saving itself, as the State Government ponders funding reforms.
Gladstone VMR president Jeff Caldwell (pictured) said they felt like they were "in no man's land" until the Bluewater Review was completed by the State Government.
The Gladstone VMR was in a more fortunate position than some areas, with more than 1300 associate members.
But only 80 of those members are active volunteers.
"We need a modern, reliable boat to be able to just get in and go when we need to," Mr Caldwell said.
Mr Caldwell said the service accepted as much funding as they could get and actively sought out government grants to improve services and efficiency.
"We are grateful to all the members we have but we are desperate for more active members to ease the workload on our volunteers, some of whom also work full-time," he said.
The Bluewater Review is considering whether the VMR should merge with the Coast Guard - which cover different areas - and at the funding involved.
Gladstone Volunteer Marine Rescue has three vessels used in rescues and to transport paramedics and firefighters to theislands.
They hope to replace one soon with a modern, reliable boat.
"To be able to just get in and go when we need to," Mr Caldwell said.
"They can cost more than $600,000.
"We want to be able to source that boat in Queensland and potentially use our buying power to buy a number of vessels to service the entire coast."
Gladstone MP and Regional Development and Manufacturing Minister Glenn Butcher said he had been lobbying Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford on behalf of Gladstone VMR.
"We know how valuable the VMR are in Gladstone just by the amount of rescues they do every year," Mr Butcher said.
"I have been talking to Minister Crawford, who is doing this review, and I certainly believe there are some opportunities for businesses, particularly in regional Queensland, to see if they can tool up to produce boats for our VMR."
While the funding in the Bluewater Review is a complex and detailed model involving emergency services, Mr Butcher said the VMR should have some clarity soon.
"Some of the funding models have certainly been around for a while and back in the day when you could buy a boat for maybe $120,000, these days they are getting up around half a million dollars," he said.
"Sea Jay boats are produced in Bundaberg and we've got an alumina refinery here in Gladstone making aluminium, so why can't we make boats here that service the VMR right around Australia?"
The community can also support the valuable service the VMR provides.
"There is a big percentage of people who are rescued who aren't with the VMR, so it's pertinent if you own a boat, to pay your VMR registration. That money supports them and helps with new boats and equipment," Mr Butcher said.