Brad Farmer calls for a Ministry for Coastal and Marine Resources

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

On Monday, while you and I kicked back and thanked our improbable head of state for the day off, Brad Farmer donned a bag of fruit for a special ceremony. The co-founder of Surfrider Australia and National Surfing Reserves got the call up from Lizzie to receive the Order of Australia medal.

So it's Bradley Farmer AO from now on, which looks like an Adults Only ratings classification but actually means Brad has provided, "Distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large".

He's been doing this stuff for four decades now and it's fantastic to see Brad get noticed.

Without even pausing to smile for the cameras, Brad immediately got on the front foot regarding his latest concern: the creation of a Federal Ministry for Coastal and Marine Resources.

It may surprise you to learn that, despite our population largely living on the coastal fringe, Australia is one of the few countries in the OECD that doesn't have an overarching framework to protect and administer its coast. Also, only four of our eight states and territories have any form of coastal policy, and those that exist are non-uniform and ad hoc which fragments decision-making across borders.

From the pulpit, medal gleaming around his neck, Brad bellowed:

“Coastal and marine resources are one of Australia’s greatest generators of income and pleasure for millions of us, and its sustainability hangs in the balance with impending commercial and foreign threats under a total lack of any national protective framework,” said Brad.

“Coastal tourism alone generates $103 billion for Australia every year. So why is it that other lesser or comparable Australian natural resources like fisheries, mining, agriculture, forests and water resources have dedicated Ministries, but not coastal and marine, when it is proven to be a potentially infinite resource, long after others may have been exhausted.”

“We are continuing to witness in Australia an incremental chipping away of our most iconic, precious, and sovereign resource – beaches, coastlines, and marine assets.”

Brad then urged Scott Morrison, who like his two Liberal Prime Ministerial predecessors, represents a coastal electorate, "to speak up for the coast".

To "future proof" coastal and ocean resources, Brad is advocating for both major parties and crossbenchers to support a Private Members Bill that introduces three key measures:

  1. A National Coastal and Marine Act
  2. A Federal Ministry for Coastal and Marine Resources
  3. A National Coastal and Marine Commission

Surfers are increasingly becoming aware how our amenity is contingent upon coastal processes, so any movement in this direction would protect and account for waves, and therefore be a welcome development.


Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness commented Wednesday, 12 Jun 2019 at 2:47pm

Great to see those years of dedicated work being acknowledged. Here's hoping he gets the message across.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 12 Jun 2019 at 4:19pm

Well done to him and good luck with those 3 seems nothing can be agreed on these days and don't ask the Libs for any inspired policy positions or undertakings. And then add Queensland into the mix which seems to be inhabited by the ghost of Joh B. P. Buckleys and none.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 12 Jun 2019 at 4:39pm

Good on ya Brad. This is a great idea.

Tfo's picture
Tfo's picture
Tfo commented Thursday, 13 Jun 2019 at 2:18am

Great to see him recognised. One correction, the order of Australia medal carries the post nominals OAM, an AO is a few rungs higher in the ladder.

Waveshorey's picture
Waveshorey's picture
Waveshorey commented Thursday, 13 Jun 2019 at 8:16am

Hope to see common sense prevail with this project, nice work Brad

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Thursday, 13 Jun 2019 at 12:11pm

tbb salutes Brad & his central command...
Dutto's 3 mile Mob have already sand mined [PROHIBITED] Beach Flags perimeter.

It pays to understand that full protection by the govt was once the norm.
Ever since the protection was broken down into several independent categories.
This affords bastardisation to spread to all levels.(Blame any number of other guys)
The most stringent Oz WH Zones still allow Mining/Logging/4WD/Jet Skis/Drones.
All add on activities are prohibited as a base rule in Trump's USA Nat Parks.

Firstly many Oz Marine Parks have a legacy of Shooting/Hunting Practice.
1825 Qld "Navigational Foreshores" were once protected from sale.
1872/3 Gold Coast sea bathing beaches were "Reserved for Public Recreation"
1898 '1st Oceanside Nat Park' Wilsons Promontory(Vic)
1925 Surf Bathing Reserves(Now allow Boats/Jet Skis/Boards/Drones /Dogs at once)
1937 "1st Australian Marine Park" Green Island(Qld) [Links to similar discussion]
1939 1st 'Qld Surfside N.P' Noosa (I believe?)
1973 1st "dedicated" State Heritage Surfing Crown Reserve(Bells Beach)
1975 "National Estate Register" protects eg: 'Fish Trap' Headlands /Beach Middens
1975 1st Artificial Reef for Divers (Car Tyres+Shopping Trolleys) Qld
1976 "Historic Shipwrecks Act" thereby protects Heritage Shipwreck Surf Reefs
1979 "Australian Fishing Zone" (3-200 miles)
1980 1st 'State Govt Marine Reserve' NSW Long Reef
1981 "World Heritage" listing of Great Barrier Reef.(World's largest reef)
1987 Sand By Pass GC (Transfers sand from mainland to a Marine Park Island)
1992 "World Heritage" listing of K'gari (World's largest surf reserve)
1994 "Exclusive Economic Zone" (12-200 miles)
1999 1st Surf Reef fail Gold Coast
2006 "National Surfing Reserve" Maroubra
2012 "World Surfing Reserve" Many Freshwater

Note: This is an Outline! There are endless more departments & reserve status.
Following examples how this crossover bastardization becomes an excuse.

(Surf City) GC Spit Master Plan has just been released to the Public
Public stated over & over NO ocean/river parks sell off & No CST.(Govt says: Trust us!)

SMP > "Parks sold off for CST & Yacht Berths"....Locals are livid & sick of Govts.

Consider 'CST' Park has Absolute High Level Protection.(Not negotiable)
National Estate Register should easily protect Gowanda's spiritual Sea change Home
Qld Govt Crown Reserve
Qld Govt Recreational Purpose Reserve
Original Local Council Bathing Reserve will be uprooted due to Jetty Rips.
Park is Dedicated to SLSA Patron "Prince Philip"(Upon his 2nd GC SLSA duty)
Federal Shipwreck Marine Park
Qld State Govt Marine Park (re: Endangered GC mega fauna Dugong & Turtles)
Home to Oz bodysurfing (1864) + Surfboard/Riding (1911)(Surfing heritage)

Surely with over the top multi level protection our pioneer's Surf Break is safe?

Nope! Heralding (Fake) Oz #1 Gold Coast Central Park
State Govt spersized GCCC CST & sold off our riverside parks.
Govt is pressing for more mega Riverpark handover to Casino mobsters
(Trust us!)Same Govt swore: No Spit Development,No CST,No 2nd Casino!

Ask how Cruise Ships can bucket norovirus,refuel & dayglow a Marine Park
Reminder! Marine Park Contamination (Every Berth) cops $200k -$1.7m penalty!
Repeat offenders (being -most visiting cruise Ships)...Have vessel's confiscated.
Council even admit the nearby Dunes will keep eroding from said project.
This is not a Ship Harbour it's a Highly protected endangered Spit Marine Park.

Federal Govt have already rubber stamped Marine Park CST prior to SMP supersizing.
Fed/Qld/Local Govts together maximising pollution to kill off endangered species.
Not one called the other out on Marine Park/Foreshore Protection.(Just Bulldoze it!)

For the record! GC community & Celebs (thanx)...have fought decades to stop this...
We are exhausted and losing ground each day, Govts simply rewrite the rule book.
Sea creatures,past cultures,we...our future are just gum on their whiteshoes.

We need a change for the better!
Whatever minister responsible is likely to be replaced each month! So what's new!

kookfactor's picture
kookfactor's picture
kookfactor commented Thursday, 13 Jun 2019 at 3:02pm

Management plan for marine parks 2018 gives a freeride to commercial vessels in all area's under
Overview of the rules for activities (refer to the plan for full details)
ActivitySpecialPurposeZone(Trawl)(IUCN VI)

Ballast water discharge and exchange ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Disposal of waste from normal operations of vessels(MARPOL) ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Camping A A A A A A
Recreational use (non-fishing, nature watching, boating, etc.) ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Non-commercial remote piloted aircraft, drones etc. A A A A A A
heres the link -

andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt commented Thursday, 13 Jun 2019 at 6:29pm

Congratulations Brad - stoked for you.
Great recognition of your many years of community service.

A National Coastal and Marine Act would be interesting and very much needed.
I suspect the big challenge is seeking a consistency from the bureaucratic overlaps.
Local Government rules down to the high tide line, but in effect, they "manages the beach", with professional life guards able to boss you around in wave breaking zones. State Government is the boss from high tide line out to 3?km's i think - and they own (or "took", depending on your perspective) all the public land anyway. Then Federal Government is ruling from 3km's out to the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (200?kms out).
There is clearly a need for one rational approach, but...
But if we look at history - every level of government wants (and has got) more power and bigger budgets.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Thursday, 13 Jun 2019 at 7:39pm

Not going to happen in the land of aspiration, nice sentiment thou.

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango commented Monday, 17 Jun 2019 at 9:53pm

Well done, Brad, and to whoever did the nomination paperwork itself to get him recognised.

Once upon a time, Australia was serious about coastal management and a few things were progressed. Two more notable efforts were the Resource Assessment Commission investigation in the early 1990s - the Coastal Zone Inquiry 1993 (see With the exception of a few updates in fact and many changes of departmental letterhead, most of the issues it canvassed are still highly relevant for 2019. The Feds (through the National Resource Management Ministerial Council) did in fact have a crack and released the Framework for a National Cooperative Approach to Integrated Coastal Zone Management in 2006 - I've got hard copy but damned if I can find it on the web anywhere.

Part of the challenge is that the Feds have limited control over most of the coastal natural/built/social assets and threats to them - it's mainly the domain of the states and their legislation. They run the land-use planning and development system, infrastructure provision, the nature resource management functions and the like. The Feds use a range of measures to influence it (eg grant programs), but seldom have any clout inside the 3 nautical mile (around 5km) limit of State waters.

Local councils and a range of other land managers are responsible for the dry stuff to different boundaries. In some cases it is to the high water mark, for some its low water and in others it can be a fixed line (and subject to coastal erosion/inundation etc). It's also complicated by planning schemes extending out into the water in many places (eg 600m at Bells), different marine reserves and different coastal reserves. Under the water, the land management agency usually has the main stake in the substrate.

While the States would likely resist any move to bring them all into line (which would be a shitefight anyway as they all have different arrangements across multiple agencies and vested interests) they might all emerge to be a bit more interested in the not-too-distant future as climate change makes itself felt properly and federal $$ is sought to address it.

I'm not sure whether the Act and Department would fly in the context of those institutions and vested interests, but I reckon the Commission has a chance. Although the polls would be running scared if we had something like the Californian Coastal Commission some issues they are about 10years ahead of us (such as making property owners pay to repair beaches).

Onya Brad.