Licences proposed for nude beach
NUDISTS could be forced to pay for skinny dipping licences to swim at a Byron Bay beach under a plan proposed by councillor Alan Hunter.
His proposal comes as skinny dippers and naked sunbathers demand restrictions be lifted at the last remaining nude beach from Coffs Harbour to the Northern Territory.
Tomorrow, Byron Naturists Group will stage a Nude Not Lewd Rally at Tyagarah Beach to send a message to Byron Shire Council that banning nudity won't make the beach any safer.
They are going nuts over a new sign hemming them into a small area.
In March, the council approved a six-month trial of a nude zone near Grays Lane but demanded clothes be put back on around Elements Resort.
"We have had a spike of sexual assaults within the area, however the good thing about that is people are more comfortable coming forward to us about them," Tweed Byron Police Area Command superintendent Wayne Starling said.
"Unfortunately we have had to issue tickets to people but it has reduced the chance of people being sexually assaulted in that area.
Supt Starling said police were using a measured response targeting people doing the wrong thing.
"If I can save one boy or girl from being sexually assaulted I would," he said.
Both naturists, the council, police and community agree the increased surveillance has made the beach safer.
"But the nudists have to be charged for some of the costs of increased security or surveillance," Cr Hunter said.
"I think there should be a user-pays system or a licence because I don't think the community should have to pay.
"We only have limited resources and so do the police.
"If they want to do something that creates a need for more police surveillance they should pay for it or just stay at home and go for a bath."
Campaigner Maxine Hawker said she wasn't a naturist but considered herself a "long-time skinny dipper and nude sunbaker".
She was fined by police for skinny dipping in a tea tree lake in January but had the fine overturned at Byron Bay Local Court in July after the Magistrate ruled bathing naked wasn't offensive.
"For 25 years I have been swimming naked on that beach and I have never been fined on that beach," she said.
"For that time you could walk naked for 2k, people have been doing that for years and years and years."
She said business interests were driving the move to restrict skinny dipping and naked sunbaking on the beach with the end goal to ban it all together.
"Naturists are pacifist by nature, they love being nude in nature and it has nothing to do with sexual behaviour," she said.
"We like it because of the sense of freedom of being able to swim nude and if you can't swim nude in Byron Bay where can you swim nude?"