Get rid of the prude and make way for the nude
WHY is Queensland different?
Twenty-nine years after then South Australian premier Don Dunstan declared the first official Australian nudist beach, Queensland is still arresting people for wilful exposure at unofficial nudist beaches.
While South Australia led the way in the 1970s, Victoria and NSW followed in the '80s and Tasmania already has the state law to have clothes optional beaches, although it has not yet been used.
Queensland, with arguably Australia's best beaches, the briefest bikinis and budgie smugglers to boot, has shied away from the Full Monty.
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But it's 2014 and leading Queensland criminal lawyer Bill Potts said he believed it was high time to get rid of the prude and make way for the nude.
The distinguished lawyer, whose practice extends along the golden strip of beaches from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, bought into the topic following Noosa Magistrate John Hodgins' advice that Queensland's legal position regarding nudity at beaches such as Alexandria Bay needed to be clarified.
"It's 2014 and time for a public debate," Mr Potts said.
Coolum-based Free Beaches Australia member Mark Hayter couldn't agree more with these men of the law.
But he thinks that a debate will bring out the "wowsers".
"They always have the loudest voice," he said.
Nevertheless, Mr Hayter is willing to speak up and say he is against the current "Claytons-style nude beach" which he believes Queensland politicians see as a way of sidestepping the issue.
He said a legalised beach would enable the erection of signage, and allow beachgoers to make an informed decision on their choice of beach style. Signage would include advice to stay out of the dunes and away from walking tracks.
He described the situation as similar to choosing a television program.
"If you don't like the channel, you don't watch it," Mr Hayter said.
And he said a law would enable genuine nudists to work with police if any "ratbags" were present on the beach. "We could call the police and say, 'Look, there is a joker playing up here'," Mr Hayter said.
The 55-year-old said the Free Beach Association had been campaigning for legalisation for years.
He says former Noosa MLA and self-confessed nude swimmer Cate Molloy had organised a meeting with then Premier Peter Beattie. "He was surprised when he learned how much tourism was generated from nude beaches,'' he said. "But he told us we had to go through council."
He said he had met with the same negative result at a meeting with then Noosa mayor Bob Abbot. "It was like banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall," he said.
For Mr Hayter, a sunbake and swim in the nude is all about relaxing.
But he said the current threat of arrest was no way to unwind.
"You're like a meerkat peering over your shoulder all the time."
But he knows nude bathing is not for everyone, "just like you wouldn't get me jumping out of a plane".