Major reforms in place for NSW boaters

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Major reforms to marine safety laws are on the way following the approval of the Marine Safety Amendment Bill 2008 in the NSW Legislative Assembly tonight. Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi said the changes focus on strengthening the culture of safe boating in NSW.

The reforms were approved without opposition.

'It is important our boating safety laws keep pace with increasing activity and current boating safety issues in the state,' he said.

'Irresponsible behaviour can be just as dangerous on our waterways as on our roads. These laws and powers will go a long way to reducing such behaviour and making sure skippers put safety first.'

The marine safety package has new penalties, including jail terms and fines, for dangerous navigation, overloading a vessel and endangering public safety.

Other safety amendments include:

New offences with increased penalties for operating a vessel while disqualified;

New powers for NSW Maritime and Water Police to enforce the law and direct boaters to act safely;

New powers for NSW Maritime and Water Police to immediately suspend registration when vessels are found operating outside the law (this includes vessels operating at night with insufficient lighting).

Mr Tripodi said NSW Maritime would be supporting the new laws with a renewed emphasis on compliance and education.