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"Surfers Back Smiths Beach Plan"

29 September 2005

In Response

In Response (1):
Luke Sutherland, President, Yallingup Boardriders Association

In Response (2):

A version of this letter from the Surfrider Foundation (Australia) was published in SW community newspapers, including the Busselton~Dunsborough Mail and Augusta~Margaret River Mail:

Dear Editor,

A recent media report claimed that surfers backed a local coastal development plan. The Surfrider Foundation (Australia) would point out that while those people interviewed for the article were all surfers, the information has been used out of context and is misleading. Neither headline, the article nor the journalists interpretation represent the values of the surfing community in the South-West region.

At Smiths Beach, the developer is heavily promoting and advertising a development proposal that is still with the local Shire planners. There remain significant community concerns that this proposal is still too large and its impact on the surrounding landscape is inappropriate.

Unique coastal landscapes are a diminishing resource. Worldwide, uncontrolled development has diminished the beauty of many of our special coastal places. Increasingly, surfers and other beach going tourists are visiting Australia because of the unique ‘natural’ experience they are able to enjoy from visiting places which, from a visitor's perspective, maintain many of the original natural features and beauty.

Surfrider Foundation is a leading advocate for the Australian surfing community. Surfers, in general, are cautious about coastal development and would certainly not back any inappropriate development plan.

We feel the headline that led the article, suggesting that surfers as a group backed a coastal development plan, is a misrepresentation of the views of the surfing community in general.

The initial surfer interviewed is clearly concerned about the development plans. The final two surfers in the article stated they welcomed the "developer's willingness to consider" specific aspects of the plan in regards to community facilities at the beach. It is a long stretch from that point to insinuate, in a misleading headline, that surfers back the whole proposal.

We encourage surfers to speak out on coastal issues but are disappointed if the surfing community is misrepresented in the media.

(A very similar letter was also sent to the Editor of The West Australian)

In Response (3):

A letter from Sandy Shore to The West Australian (was not signed with the nom de plume)

Your paper has 'dropped in' on the community campaign. Possibly adding some 'surf rage' to the divisive Smiths Beach issue with the recent headline, "Surfers back Smiths Beach plan" (22/9/05). To help you pull your nose up from pearling into a horrendous 'stack', I would point out that 'surfers' as an itinerant tribal community have not been widely canvassed on the issue. Your headline is misleading to the point of requiring a retraction.

On reading the article the cautious and articulate surfers only agreed with specific parts of the developer's plan to do with surfing and safety facilities. That's not the whole development plan, which is too large. The more appropriate headline would have been "Two local Smiths Beach surfers welcome sugar coated developer's promises".

The article

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