The Esplanade Business owners, a handfull of locals and the regions largest newspaper, The Fraser Coast Chronicle (FCC), have been lobbying the Fraser Coast Regional Council (FCRC) to ‘tidy up’ the foreshore of Hervey Bay as they feel it is bad for business and looks untidy. The editor of the newspaper, Peter Chapman, took the lobbying one step further and conducted a survey in the paper asking residents whether they thought the foreshore should be ‘tidied up’? This move in itself is not concerning as newspapers frequently run surveys and polls, but this editor took the survey to the FCRC and demanded that they take action because the results were in favour of a clean up.
It is not the Fraser Coast Chronicles place to apply pressure to a regional council to do anything. The media’s role is to report on an issue and to do so unbiasedly and to clearly demonstrate both sides of the argument. Media is bound by a code of conduct, as is most industries in today’s societies, and the FCC may well be in breach of their code by continuously reporting in favor of developers and now by attempting to apply pressure to the FCRC to clean up the foreshore.
The foreshore is already very ‘park like’ in many places with adequate recreation areas, clear views to the ocean and provides clearly signed designated access to the beach. The FCRC is already struggling to maintain the park like areas as there is a massive amount of grass to mow, weed and garden beds to tend. The FCRC has increased the surface area that is sprayed with weed killer tenfold in the past few years in an effort to keep up with the every increasing responsibility to maintain these areas. This in itself is not good for the foreshore, so it is logical that an increase to park land along the foreshore, will incur and increase of the application of poison and a lot more grass to mow. From a conservation perspective, the WBBCC believes the foreshore should remain as it is. We are fortunate to be one of the few coastal towns in Queensland that has left some foreshore as a buffer against erosion, storm surge inundation and salt spray and we should not consider altering this balance any further just because a few businesses think it should occur. They aren’t proposing that we remove the vegetation all together, but that we remove weeds, branches and low lying shrubs to achieve the ‘parkland look’. What they don’t understand is that although the understory, dead branches and climbing vines might look untidy to the perfectionist eye, it is providing essential protection against accelerating the speed of erosion, wind gusts and acts as a buffer against some flooding. The less vegetation there is on the foreshore, the faster the rate of erosion will occur and during extreme tidal movement, areas that are only grassed will tear apart significantly faster that areas that are densely vegetated.