Aging Darwin Council branded signs warning of deadly stingers were at the centre of a debate between aldermen and the Lord Mayor, who were unable to agree on who is responsible for their replacement.
NT Government Water Safety Advisory Committee member and alderman Robin Knox said the signs have been left to deteriorate over years, leaving swimmers in the crossfire as public safety is jeopardised, despite what she says has been her tireless efforts to get the signs replaced.
Ms Knox said the large transparent stingers, with tentacles spanning up to three metres are the deadliest animal in our water ways, and pose more risk than crocodiles.
“We have a whole lot that need to be replaced, it would cost less than $1000 for council,” she said
She said signs have fallen down at Nightcliff Beach, and are ageing at Mindil Beach and Rapid Creek.
And the large Northern Territory Government warning signs are filled with complicated information that is difficult to decipher, Alderman Knox said.
“I just want our beaches to be safe,” she said, “We have a duty of care.”
Coming to a head at the Darwin Council meeting on Tuesday night, aldermen agreed to approach the NT Government to work on fixing the signs collaboratively before December 31, but rejected any notion to put forward the funds.
Council chief executive officer Scott Waters says the aging signs, despite bearing a City of Darwin logo, are not council’s responsibility.
He said council controls all areas above the “high water mark”.
“What occurs on our beaches is absolutely within our remit, but the marine environment is the responsibility of the NT Government,” he said.
“Whatever happens in the aquatic environment is the NT Government’s responsibility, not only to advise them but to also provide those hazardous signs.”
Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis pointed out council has not put up signs warning of the dangers of crocodiles.
Previously sitting on the Water Safety Advisory Committee, Alderman Justine Glover said responsibility should not be “hand-balled” to the NT Government.
“The risks of jelly fish in our water, especially to a child, are severe. We have already had a number of kids die,” she said.
“They are really important signs.”
Alderman Emma Young, however, said council should stand strong on its motion to see the NT Government pay for the sign revamps, saying “if we keep doing the NT Government work it sets a precedence.”