‘Doing their job’: Minister defends police for arresting Noosa nudists

Nudists taking part in “Clean up Australia Day”. Being nude on the beach remains illegal in Queensland. Photo: Drew RyanQueensland’s new Police Minister Mark Ryan says police who arrested nude bathers at a Noosa beach were “doing their job”.

Six nudists have been arrested in 12 months for wilful exposure at Noosa’s Alexandria Bay, prompting the Australian Naturists Federation (ANF) to shift their Nude Olympics from Noosa to Byron Bay.

The beach has long been used for nude bathing, although Queensland remains the only state in Australia which does not officially allow the practice.

Travel website TripAdvisor describes Alexandria Bay, which lies within the Noosa Heads National Park, as “by far Queensland’s most popular nudist beach”.

“(It) has been used for nude swimming and sunbathing for many years,” the site reads.

“Most days there are quite a lot of people on the beach, mostly the southern end, sometimes hundreds on weekends.

“Unfortunately, in spite of many requests, it still does not have legal status.”

The ANF Olympics, a largely social occasion that includes an eight-kilometre marathon, tug of war and egg-throwing events, attracts up to 700 people, and organisers have estimated in the past it adds $2 million to the local economy.

But Mr Ryan said police had responded to complaints by the public.

“I make no apologies for police doing their job,” Mr Ryan said.

“If people break the law they will be arrested,” he said.

“The QPS does not discriminate and will prosecute offenders where it has been established there is sufficient evidence and that any prosecution is in the public interest.”

Mr Ryan declined to respond when asked how Queensland losing a $2 million-a-year tourist venture was in the public interest.

The person who must rule on any changes to Queensland’s nude bathing laws – Attorney General Yvette D’Ath – in December 2016 told the Sunshine Coast Daily she attended nude beaches with her parents “until she was a young adult”.

“As a child, from the age of about 10, my parents would from time to time take our family to nudist beaches,” she said.

“When I was a young adult, I decided I no longer wished to be involved in this activity.”

When asked about the loss of the nudist event to the Noosa economy, Tourism Minister Kate Jones said: “At this stage I am not aware of any significant need for a change in the existing legislation.”

Queensland’s former police minister Bill Byrne came close to explaining the government’s position in April 2016 in state Parliament when he linked nude bathing to Queensland’s wilful exposure legislation.

Two petitions with 1473 signatures calling for change were rejected.

Petitioners wanted a beach “for the recreational use of those who wish to sunbathe or swim nude without the fear of prosecution”.

Then-minister Byrne said Queensland’s wilful exposure laws were “designed to protect citizens and keep them safe”.

“As such, I can advise that the Queensland government has no plans to change the current legislation dealing with wilful exposure.

“Therefore the designation of a clothing-optional beach is not supported at this time.”

On Thursday Fairfax received a response from a government spokesperson which said.” Any request for legislative change would need the broad support of the local community as well as local and state government representatives before it would be considered.”

Tourism Noosa did not return calls from Fairfax Media.

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