The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has successfully prosecuted a person who drove their vehicle onto a designated pedestrian-only beach in the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park contrary to regulatory notices. The person was fined and ordered to pay legal and investigation costs by the Magistrates Court for the offence.
Five Rocks Beach is part of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and is accessed along a designated track through Byfield National Park in Central Queensland. Three regulatory notices made under the Marine Parks Regulation 2006 were located just before the access track onto the beach which directed persons that the beach to the north of the access track into Five Rocks Beach is prohibited to vehicles and penalties apply for contravening the direction. However, on 1 January 2017, the person in contravention of the regulatory notices drove their vehicle into the prohibited area.
The person was charged with one offence of unlawfully bringing a vehicle into a part of a marine park in contravention of the Marine Park Regulation. The person subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court.
In sentencing the person, the Magistrates Court took into account a range of factors, including:
The Court fined the defendant $900 and ordered that he pay legal and investigation costs of almost $1,000.
This case highlights the importance of complying with regulatory notices and that relevant authorities will take prosecution action in appropriate cases to enforce compliance. The Courts are also more likely to award higher fines and legal and investigation costs where the conduct is deliberate and knowingly in breach.
Stafford Hopewell, Partner, Brisbane
Elton Morais, Senior Associate, Brisbane