Protest ramps up effort

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times

About 500 people descended on Canal Rocks on Saturday for the second boat ramp rally, during which protesters called for a commonsense alternative to closing the facility.

The rally was organised by Canal Rocks Action Group and included presentations from Busselton City Mayor Grant Henley, retired MLC Barry House and professional surfers Taj Burrow and Jake Paterson, who spoke about the benefits of the ramp and the impact its closure would have on recreational and commercial fishers, tourist operators and visitors to the region.

Premier Mark McGowan, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, South West MLC Adele Farina and other State representatives were also invited but did not attend.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam spoke at the rally and said the decision to close the ramp was a “cheap, quick fix” to address safety concerns at the facility.

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While she noted it was the previous government and members of Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue Group who had called for a report into safety at the ramp, she said she believed the State Government had given little consideration to the impact of its closure.

“All the users agree that closing the ramp won’t stop people from trying to use it and will potentially create further safety issues,” Ms Mettam said. “Closing this ramp will also put pressure on other nearby ramps that are often operating at capacity during peak periods.”

While speakers acknowledged there were risks when using the ramp in certain conditions, they agreed common sense was needed.

A partial or restricted-access ramp was not supported by protesters, given the immediate need for it to be accessed by the volunteer marine rescue group.

“There has to be, just like when you are driving on the road, a degree of self-responsibility when using the boat ramp,” Mr House said. “We all know that there is days when the wind and the swells make it difficult to launch boats from here and anybody worth their self and with an ounce of common sense won’t use it on those days.”

Cr Henley pointed to signage that had emerged at the facility afterthe first rally in October and said while the sign was not prominent it was a start.

“There is no safety issues here that can’t be overcome,” he said.

Action group secretary John Malloy hoped the second rally showed the Government the community’s stance.

He said a peer review had been submitted to the Government and the group was waiting to hear its final position.

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