The Boating Industries Alliance Australia Board met in Sydney yesterday for the first AGM of the year-old Alliance, electing BIANSW President Darren Vaux as Chairman for a second term. Joining Vaux as Vice-Chairman is Andrew Warner, President of BIA Victoria and as Treasurer, George Bolton of BIASA, also standing for a second term.
Looking ahead to the challenges and opportunities facing the boating industry in the next 12 months, Vaux commented 'following what has been a very difficult trading period over the last couple of years, we expect to see a pick-up in business over the coming year, being a combination of an increase in consumer confidence as mortgage rates reduce and employment holds firm, and the AUD deflates providing some respite for local manufacturers and importers battling what has been a growing trend of self-importing boats and other products'.
Following a widely-publicised BIAA-led campaign to raise awareness of the impact and potential problems associated with grey imports, targeting boaters, consumers and government agencies alike, Vaux commented 'recent discussions focusing on initiatives to bring Australian regulation and standards in line with global markets, are starting to bear fruit. BIAA is looking at options for a new industry-driven, boat design and construction standard which will recognise the world-class quality product manufactured in Australia while providing boaters with an assurance that imported boats are inspected and approved to the same high standard as locally built boats'.
Acknowledging government concerns about protectionist policies, Vaux clarified the initiative would support local industry and boaters alike: 'over the next year the BIAA will be working with industry members, standards-setters and international boating industry partners to develop a program of standards that establishes a quality and specification baseline for boats brought to the market, while maintaining the spirit of open competition enjoyed by the boating consumer in being able to source products from across the world to enhance their boating lifestyle'.
In recognising the importance of the boating lifestyle to the Australian market, and foreshadowing the launch of an exciting new boating lifestyle promotion in the coming months, Vaux said 'connecting with boaters, of all ages and levels of participation, is a key objective of the BIAA to develop a market place in which our members can do business. Our new boating lifestyle promotion initiative is aimed at attracting new boaters and refreshing the appeal of boating for those already on-board'. Providing boating education and tips, advice on buying a boat, the best places to go boating and up to date information on boating conditions, the promotion will be launched at the Sydney International Boat Show, 2-6 August, 2012.
Helping members grow and sustain their businesses is also a key objective of the BIAA and as a first for Australia, Vaux announced that BIAA will partner with the Marina Industry Association of Australia to present a new international conference, Marine13.
'Providing an unprecedented platform for collaboration, innovation, education and understanding between key stakeholders in the marine industries in Australia and abroad and laying the foundations for a safe and prosperous boating future, Marine13 will be the most important event for industry and government leaders alike in the coming year and beyond', said Vaux.
Supported by NSW Government, the Office of Boating Safety and Roads and Maritime Services in NSW as Principal Partner, Marine13 will be held at the Sydney Exhibition and Conference Centre in Sydney on 28-30 April 2013. Further information can be found at www.marine13.com
Commenting on recent developments in legislation and government policy affecting the boating industry, Vaux said 'in the next six months, we expect to see the declaration by the Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon Tony Burke, of an encircling network of marine parks right around the continent.
In general, the boating industry supports the concept of marine parks to protect and sustain the natural environment which is so intrinsic to boating, but in recent meetings with the Minister, we have continued to advocate the paramount importance to social and economic interests of access to our waterways'.
With final consultations on the shape and format of the marine park network expected within the next two to three months, Vaux added 'the BIAA will be partnering with other stakeholders to influence the definition of zones and permitted activities under the declaration and in particular to limit or mitigate the potential for negative impact on boating industry, especially in Queensland where we expect the Minister to face some very difficult decisions related to the Coral Sea green zones'.
Supporting Vaux as the newly-confirmed Board of BIAA, following recent state BIA board changes, are Geoff Ellis, President of BIAWA, Andrew Hayes, President of BIASA, Paul Benjamin, Vice-President BIAVic, Simon Cook, Vice-President BIANSW, Byron Hazell, President BIANT and Greg Nickerson and Nathan Nichols, President and Vice-President respectively of Marine Queensland. Nik Parker, as General Manager, continues to support the Board.
The Boating Industries Alliance Australia is the national peak body for the boating industry in Australia and represents all the state Boating Industry Associations on national issues.