NSW Government proposes Marine Rescue levy

Public submissions on $7.50 licence and registration levy close on June 18

NSW Government proposes Marine Rescue levy
NSW Government proposes Marine Rescue levy

The NSW Government is proposing an initiative to support Marine Rescue NSW, a voluntary, non-government organisation with more than 2300 members State-wide.

Minister for Ports and Waterways, Paul McLeay, and Minister for Emergency Services, Steve Whan, said Marine Rescue NSW provided a valuable service to the boating community, and should be supported.

The proposal would see $7.50 levied on boating fees, so boaters can provide sustainable financial support to the volunteer service, the Government said.

McLeay said over a year, Marine Rescue NSW units assisted more than 2500 people in trouble across the State.

"Marine Rescue NSW is full of committed volunteers, many of whom are local heroes for the work they do keeping our coastal waters safe," McLeay said.

As an example, Minister Whan referred to the rescue of a family at Brunswick Heads who were battling three metre seas, and winds up to 30kts, after they had lost steerage of their yacht.

"There are many more examples of bravery and community service; volunteers regularly head out in tough conditions to help those in need," Whan said.

"However, it is not just a service for recreational boaters. Wooli volunteers rescued a local fisherman whose boat had overturned and was sinking in rough seas.

"Sometimes even the most experienced boaters can come into trouble on the water and that is why Marine Rescue NSW is there," he said.

Marine Rescue NSW supports and conducts search and rescue operations. The organisation also provides marine VHF radio monitoring along the coast, and also assists with water traffic control in major aquatic events. It also conducts key boating training and education for local communities.

McLeay added that boater numbers would double to around 900,000 in the next 25 years if boating continues to grow at the current rate.

"To make sure we plan for this growth we need to secure the financial future of Marine Rescue NSW now and this is an opportunity to do so," he said.

"The proposal would provide better rescue, educational and training services to the boating community."

If accepted by Government, the rescue levy would result the following changes:

• A roll out of 98 new rescue vessels along the coast over the next 6 years.

• The establishment of a border-to-border VHF radio monitoring network and seamless trip monitoring as vessels travelled along the coast.

• A $7.50 increase to both boat licences and registrations, with the rescue levy set at $3 for concession holders. This would see the annual boat driver’s licence increase from $43 to $50.50.

• An increase to annual registration fees. A typical 5.5m runabout would increase from $92 to $99.50, according to the Government.

If accepted, the levy would commence in July 2010.

Submissions can be made online by visiting www.maritime.nsw.gov.au, or by emailing marinerescuefunding@maritime.nsw.gov.au. Written submissions can also be sent to: NSW Maritime, Locked Bag 5100, Camperdown, 1450.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 18 June 2010.

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