Boating industry rejects Andrews Govt boating bill in its current form

Boating industry rejects Andrews Govt boating bill in its current form

The Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIAV) has rejected the State Government’s Marine Safety Act Amendment (Better Boating Fund) Bill 2020 in its current form, which is currently going through parliament.

BIAV has responded to overwhelming stakeholder alarm, on the basis the bill does not fully deliver on the core aspect of the 2018 election commitment.

In the lead-up to the November 2018 election, Premier Andrews stood before boating stakeholders and pledged that every cent of boaters registration and licensing fees will be returned to boaters to be spent on boating safety and facilities. This has been re-affirmed on numerous occasions since, by the Premier as well as by consecutive Ministers.

BIAV President David Meehan said the clear and articulated commitment – made both verbally and in writing – from the Victorian Premier and Ministers, was that all $31m of boating fees collected would flow into the Fund every year.

“For over 30 years successive governments have taken fees from boaters and delivered little in return,” Mr Meehan said.

“Accordingly, Victorian boaters suffer inadequate boating infrastructure that is decades behind other Australian states. Without funding for infrastructure such as boat ramps and parking we don’t have boating and we don’t have an industry that employs over 17,000 people”

“BIAV commends the Government on the changed narrative around boating over the past 24 months since the election, however it must keep its election pledge on funding, as this is the cornerstone of the whole thing.”

The key purpose of the bill is to amend the Marine Safety Act to lock in annual funding to improve vital boating infrastructure for boating stakeholders into the future. Section 271G of the proposed bill provides that parliament and the treasurer, at their absolute discretion, can decide the value of monies that flow into the Better Boating Fund.

“There is no mechanism or wording in the actual amendment that guarantees the $31m+ fees collected from boaters will flow directly into the fund. It establishes a fund, however with no guaranteed funding.” Mr Meehan said.

“This is not totally in-line with the firm commitment made by the government, and stakeholders are incredibly angry that the cornerstone of the election commitment package has not been guaranteed.”

BIAV has communicated with the Minister for Fishing and Boating Melissa Horne to raise stakeholder concerns and to confirm that BIAV cannot support the bill in its current form.

It has been requested that critical amendments be made to the bill to ensure it delivers in line with the government’s 2018 pledge.

More details can be obtained from BIAV President David Meehan 0437 055 546 or BIAV CEO Steve Walker 0466 918 368.