TV report into surf death condemned



TV report into surf death condemned

  • AAP
  • April 02, 2012 10:26AM


SURF Life Saving Queensland’s president has condemned a television report on the death of Matthew Barclay, 14, during last week’s national championships on the Gold Coast.

A report on the Seven Network’s Sunday Night program questioned whether Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) had placed sponsorship dollars before safety.

Ralph Devlin on Monday told ABC Radio that sponsorship contracts for the championships to be held at Kurrawa Beach – where three participants have now died since 1996 – played no part in safety decisions.

Seven Network reporter Ross Coulthart’s interview had upset his community and the family of Matthew Barclay, he said.

“He was judge, juror and executioner and called it a so-called investigation,” he said.
Mr Devlin, who is a prominent barrister, said the vast majority of lifesavers, including the parents of Matthew Barclay, were angry about the accusations.
“We haven’t even buried this boy yet and this makes me very upset, to think that (his parents) would be upset,” he said.

Mr Devlin, a life member of the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club to which Matthew belonged, said a coroner’s investigation into the 2010 death of Saxon Bird at the same event on the same beach had put to bed suggestions that sponsorship concerns eroded safety.

“The coroner found quite expressly there was no influence about contractual arrangements, about moving or not moving the carnival,” he said.

“I have been in competition for 40 years and carnivals move at the drop of a hat, including the Australian championships.

“It is a non-issue…”

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