Tower tax slammed
Rob Goodacre reckons he will have to sell 94 raffle tickets to cover the cost of a State Government $187 licence fee for the Brunswick Valley Rescue Squad's watch tower at the entrance to the Brunswick River.
And he - along with other squad members - is fuming that the government threatened legal action if the squad didn't pay the bill, issued because the tower is on Crown land.
Mr Goodacre, the squad's boat captain, described the government's action as "criminal".
"We are a volunteer group raising funds locally and we have to pay this tax," he said.
"Next year it will be $350. It's not the money, we can pay that. It's the principle.
"I've worked it out that I have to go out and sell 94 raffle tickets to cover the cost."
The squad's president, Mike Cook, said the squad had paid the money "under protest".
Mr Cook said the money could have used the money for equipment or maintenance.
State Member for Ballina, Don Page, said the Carr Government was scraping the bottom of the barrel by charging volunteer groups for using Crown land.
Mr Page said the rescue squad provided an excellent service for the community and saved the government thousands of dollars every year.
"These people are volunteers performing a valuable community service at no cost to government, yet the State Government wants to charge them $187, rising to $350 in the next year or two for the privilege," he said.
"Rescue groups raise money in the community. Their fund raising efforts should be to maintain the rescue service, not fill Mr Carr's and Mr Egan's coffers."
Mr Page said he had asked the Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, to waive the payment but Mr Kelly's office had refused and demonstrated "total contempt" for the squad.