A council decision to grant a three year extension to a controversial trial taking place on a popular Aussie has been met with fury.
A decision to allow a private club to operate on a Gold Coast beach has been lashed, with fears it could open the floodgates for sections of more public beaches to become privatised.
The council has granted permission for Kurrawa Beach Club to operate at Broadbeach for the next three years, following a short trial that started at the end of last year.
Located on the sand at Kurrawa Beach, the club offers a variety of cocktails and food which can be delivered to you as you lounge on a private cabana.
While there has been no entry fee throughout the trial period, there is a cost if you want to get the real VIP experience and hire one of the private cabanas, with prices between $200 to $400 depending on when you visit.
The club has been popular during the trial period, but there are many locals and groups less than pleased with the decision to allow it to continue to operate.
Wildlife Queensland Gold Coast and Hinterland branch president Sally Spain branded the move “idiotic”.
“I think council is out of touch with the community on this decision,” she told the ABC.
“It opens the slippery path downwards for shops on the beach and that is something that the public are signalling they don’t want.
“The Australian icon of our free and open, non-paying, non-excluding beaches has been breached.”
Ms Spain said this decision opened “Pandora’s box”, warning one bar on the beach would soon turn into many.
Wildlife Queensland also fears that allowing commercial operations on Queensland beaches could have a negative impact on shorebirds and turtle hatcheries.
A recent survey of 446 locals conducted by the organisation found that 78.7 per cent thought a beach club was “definitely not needed” on the Gold Coast.
The beach club has even prompted protests from furious locals, with a group pictured holding signs reading, “Bar the beach bar”, “Hands off our beach” and “No grog shop on the beach”.
The move to extend the beach bar was backed by the majority of councillors, with only four members on Tuesday voting against the recommendation.
Under the new trial conditions, the bar will be allowed to operate for six months each year over the next three years.
Despite the backlash, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate claimed the venue had little impact on the beach and ratepayers.
“We’ve got 55km of beach, I hardly think 150m is an enormous amount of stretch,” the ABC reported him saying.
“It’s not costing ratepayers – if anything, we’re going to get money for it.”
He assured residents that the extended trial did not mean it would open the door for other businesses on the beach.
In terms of the environmental concerns, Mr Tate said you wouldn’t even realise the club had been there now that it was packed up for winter.
“With the first trial that we’ve completed, go down and have a look at how pristine it is,” he said.
“They’ve set it up and packed it up for winter and I’ve gone and inspected and you wouldn’t know it’s ever been there.”
A similar proposal for a beach club on Bondi Beach was shot down in recent years after receiving a hostile reception from locals.
The Amalfi Beach Club proposal submitted to Waverley Council included plans to block off a section of Bondi Beach, add in seating and serve customers food and alcohol right on the sand.
The initial proposal stated the business would target people with a “high net worth” and a taste for luxury.
“Our database constitutes a select demographic comprising of individuals enjoying a high disposable income, within the 25 to 45 age bracket, with an interest in travel, fashion and luxury goods,” the proposal read.
The document, also included an outline of the type of professionals that would possibly frequent the facilities, with the men likely to be doctors, surgeons, bankers, investors, professional directors and business entrepreneurs.
The women who they saw visiting the beach club would “occupy a similar high-end platform”, with attendees having roles in “publishing, advertising, fashion, beauty and modelling”, according to the proposal.
Beachgoers would be able to book a two-hour spot on the private cabanas and day beds for $80, though the man behind the proposal, Janek Gazecki, said that money would come off any food and drink purchases.
The proposed club would take up 2.1 per cent of the 16,000sq m of beach, though thousands of locals believed this was still too much.
A Change.org petition to stop the beach club going ahead gained more than 37,700 signatures, claiming the entirety of the beach should remain free for everyone.
Speaking to NCA NewsWire in 2020, Mr Gazecki argued there was nothing new in using Bondi Beach for commercial purposes.
“There’s plenty of commercial activities that take place here on this beach,” he said. “Even the nippers are laden with sponsorship logos.
“During City to Surf, people are drinking on the beach … Bondi Rescue, that’s a commercial enterprise.
“Our priority at the moment is generating an income for people, creating a vibrant economy again … bringing vibrancy back to Bondi.”