The following article was authored by Sandy Bolton MP and published in the Noosa Today on the 12th of April 2024:

Firstly, a huge congratulations to all candidates as well as our now official Councillors in our local government elections! As all have experienced, it is an exhausting and at times confronting endeavour to put one’s hand up, and I send gratitude to you in all ways.

With a high percentage of informal votes of around 10% which is more than double the average, as well many that did not lodge a vote, the question is why?  Always remember your vote is your voice, vitally important in making a difference!

Now, for this column, lets tackle again one of the contentious areas of the council election which is mainly the responsibility of the state government. This in the hope of bringing some clarity, though to keep it to one column, it is VERY summarised!

Our Noosa River is much loved by many. It is the beating heart for us as residents, and I declare before going any further a potential ‘conflict’! As most know, 3 years ago I moved from Cooroibah to the North Shore experiencing both fires and floods, have a ‘tinny’, fishing rod, crab pot and kayaks. ‘Declared’ yes, though not used as much as I would like to!

Our river is a also major drawcard, and as visitor numbers have increased over the last decade, more so since COVID, so has the need for better management for the safety of all users and for the health of our river system itself.

Let’s start with some basic history from over the decade where it was determined by residents and Noosa Council’s Community Jury that state government had continually done a poor job managing our river, and let’s be honest, they had! Hulks, river rats, effluent disposal, unlawful liveaboards, speed & safety were just some of the issues. The first meeting when elected as your Member of Parliament (MP) was with the Transport and Main Roads (TMR) Minister to share why these needed to be addressed, alternatively government should hand over management to Noosa Council as recommended by the ‘jury’.

This request and continued advocacy led to many improvements. Numerous hulks being removed, a dedicated Maritime Services Queensland (MSQ) officer based at Tewantin, extra resources including Maritime Enforcement Team visits, and a pilot for Queensland in the form of the Noosa River Stakeholder Advisory Committee (NRSAC). With both state and Council originally planning their ‘own’ groups, I fought for a combined committee as it made no sense to have key stakeholders sitting at separate tables. This led to the NRSAC being co-chaired, with members selected from diverse applicants to capture the various river users/stakeholders.

Thus started a two-year journey on issues the committee decreed were a priority, with myself and the former Mayor attending meetings as ‘observers’. You can imagine not being able to speak or have input was very difficult for me!

Progress was reported along this journey, culminating in the first ‘tranche’ of changes relating to river speeds taking place in September 2023 after community consultation, followed by the second ‘tranche’ due any day in relation to liveaboards and moorings. This to address growing issues for the community of the loss of access to the river accompanied by environmental concerns from effluent as the number of vessels anchored close to the shoreline increased and will update as soon as they are released.

So, let’s now look at the roles of the various levels of government for what occurs on and in our river, as this seemed to create some confusion during the recent election?

State Government

There are various state agencies who have different responsibilities. These are Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ), Queensland Police Service (QPS), the Department of Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries (DAF), QLD Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) and the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

As a branch of the Department of Transport & Main Roads (TMR), MSQ’s role is to protect Queensland’s waterways and the people who use them. This includes minimizing vessel-sourced waste by responding to and investigating marine pollution issues as well conducting preparedness, prevention, and compliance activities to reduce pollution incidents occurring. They also provide navigational aids, of which there are currently 85 in our river and a further 107 signs or buoys providing guidance to our ‘boaties’.  Further information is available at Noosa 360 at

MSQ also operate the ‘War on Wrecks’ program which we hosted a meeting with back in 2020 to ensure Noosa was heard, which has seen 31 vessels removed from our river to date, another 31 restored to seaworthy, and 22 currently ‘under investigation’. Please remember that while a vessel may be an ‘eyesore’ to some, it must pose a safety risk to be actioned through this program, with processes that are lengthy legally and expensive, with more information at

MSQ formed the Maritime Enforcement Team (MET) in 2019 as a trial to enhance their on-water compliance capability, becoming a permanent team in 2021. These officers and their jet skis are the ones you see with our first targeted compliance by them in 2022.

QBFP enforce fisheries and boating safety laws, ensuring resources and habitats are managed sustainably for the future. This includes commercial fishing licenses, regulations and catch limits, as well bag limits along our beaches for pipis etc. Their building in Russell St, Noosaville, was upgraded initially under a Ministerial mechanism that exempt them from local planning laws, however my advocacy has seen the necessary ‘fixes’ done with local approvals, that once fully completed, will address resident concerns whilst providing greater and swifter access to the river than their previous facilities.

Water Police are an ‘arm’ of QPS who regularly visit us to give ‘cautions’ to those unaware of various restrictions as well issue Marine Infringement Notices (MIN’s) to those who know the rules! They also follow up some ‘river rats’ who use their ‘tinnies’ for more than enjoyment of our river. Remember, it is a small minority who give a bad reputation to the vast majority who do the right thing, including our youngsters who many times have been the saviors of other river users!

MINs can be issued by MSQ, QBFP, as well as Water Police. Like with police on land, just because you don’t see them, it doesn’t mean they are not there! Remember, they can’t be everywhere at once, hence why it is important for us to be their ‘eyes’ and report any concerning activities.

DES has a role in fish habitat and other environmental protections related to our river such as catchment plans and are who responded to our relentless advocacy for dioxin testing, after the recommendation to do so from the 2009 Fish Taskforce Report had not been actioned. Noosa 360 has more on this at

All of these agencies are guided by various strategies such as the Sustainable Fishing Strategy that ‘plug’ into or connect with overarching state and federal strategies. Along the way are various reports, studies and assessments, with a summary of  just some of these available at which we hope to have updated in the next couple of months.

Does that all sound confusing? Yes, it is! And that is only half of the story as it is not only what happens on the river, but also what goes into the river!

Local Government Noosa Council

The Noosa River Catchment is the land area that feeds water into our river systems and comprises 63% of the Noosa Local Government Area (LGA). Given that Noosa Council is responsible for this catchment, clarifies why they have ‘major skin in the game’ when it comes to our river system and its health!

Council is part of the Freshwater, Estuarine and Marine Monitoring Program delivered by Healthy Land and Water, which incorporates sediment runoff and pollutants from rural and urban areas. Examples include the issues endeavoured to be addressed at Burgess and Kin Kin Creeks.

Councils are also part of the Resilient Rivers Program (RRP) which involves SEQ Councils and state government agencies in data collection and projects for improving water quality. On first glance this would form part of any local government ‘plan’ or strategy alongside other programs, however given there has been questions surrounding, a great topic for an information session!

Our river has a number of restrictions through various designated ‘zones’. For example a  ‘Marine Zone’ has been in place since 2009 at Noosa Council’s request which prohibits and restricts certain water-based activities  such as hovercraft, sea planes and jet skis with maps of these available

Another example are Fish Habitat Areas under DAF, that protect high value fish habitat from physical disturbance, and it is these areas that were the subject of the recent debate regarding a Conservation Park under consideration by Council. This is a topic that could also be covered in an information session, as there appear to be plenty of questions!

Council also has responsibilities in foreshore management, which includes control of vessels above the high tide mark or tied/anchored above this. In addition, land based infrastructure such as public boat ramps and jetties, with state and federal government grants available for these and other capital works such as bridge replacements, flood repairs, parks and road improvements and cycleways as examples.

Now, to bring all of these elements above, and more, together in a cohesive manner, local governments use mechanisms such as river catchment plans, which must fit within the state government Southeast Queensland (SEQ) catchment plan. For Noosa, they have one which no doubt will be visited again shortly, and also the Noosaville Foreshore Management Plan, that connects to their own broader strategies.

Now, there’s more!  The Federal Government has oversight of commercial vessel operations including registration and regulations, rather than recreational vessels which MSQ cover. They also have programs, such as the Urban Rivers and Catchments which supports and supplies funding to states and territories, and higher-level environmental protections that work concurrently with state and territory protections. Plus, a whole host more of everything else that state has to fit within!

In conclusion, as you can see, there are many involved in our river, and I have not even mentioned the many fabulous not for profits and volunteers such as Noosa Integrated Catchment Association, our Coastguard, SES and Noosa Landcare who all work in this space.

Even though there have been vast improvements since I became your MP, there is still work to do!

What form this takes is up to our community, and no doubt coming up there will be discussions and consultation on aspects such as conservation parks, however that is very much up to our Councillors to determine. Though if an information session on aspects that state government is involved in is sought, I am more than happy to organise! Always remember, knowledge and transparency are key to empowering our community to make informed and beneficial decisions. Never be fearful of this, nor of questioning, as that is really healthy, and necessary!

Despite the confusion and complexities having so many levels of government and agencies involved brings, each has a specific role they are focused on so that our river can thrive and provide safe enjoyment for all, now and into the future.

As always, updates on many local state matters, including our river, are available at and whilst there remember  to subscribe to our newsletter at to ensure you are sent any surveys of importance to our community.  If you require any assistance, please contact our office on 5319 3100 or

Until next time, I look forward to rowing/motoring alongside you, and making sure Shoey and I stick to the new rules when they arrive regarding where we can park our tinny to go for a coffee or lunch! PS. For transparency, we have yet to do that, however as with so many others on my ‘Bucket List’, I look forward to one day!