Page 4669 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017
I am pleased to table the Lakes Amendment Bill 2017 to the Assembly, the purpose of which is to amend the Lakes Act 1976 to update and modernise the provisions relating to navigation and safety on ACT lakes. The Lakes Act 1976 is an outdated and inadequate statute which has not been reviewed since its inception and does not currently provide clear or enforceable provisions in relation to navigation and public safety for users on ACT lakes.
In June 2016 the National Capital Authority initiated an administrative review of the Lakes Ordinance 1976 due to concerns associated with the increasing recreational use of Lake Burley Griffin. The ACT Lake Users Group was consulted to determine the issues to be addressed in the proposed review. The Lake Users Group comprises representatives of recreational lake users, sporting clubs and commercial operators, along with the ACT and Australian governments.
Initial consultation with the Lake Users Group and the New South Wales maritime authority identified that the following substantive issues needed to be addressed: adoption of international regulations preventing collisions in navigable waters, mainly give-way provisions; provisions relating to signals and lights on boats; conduct of persons on board boats; provisions relating to the operation and securing of boats; provisions relating to the obstruction of navigation; requirements relating to distances between boats and other objects; licensing and boat registration; towing of persons; use of personal watercraft, including jet skis; safe loading of boats; requirements relating to boat compliance plates; boat driving licences; alcohol and drug testing; and offence provisions.
A working group, the ACT lake managers’ forum, was established, comprising representatives from the National Capital Authority, ACT water police, Access Canberra, the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate, the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to progress the review of the Lakes Act and Lakes Ordinance.
The provisions of the commonwealth’s Lakes Ordinance and the Lakes Act are effectively identical, with the main point of difference being regulatory jurisdiction over different bodies of water within the territory. The ACT government supported the view, due to similar concerns for users of ACT lakes and the ACT coroner’s report recommendations in August 2015 following a fatality at the Molonglo Reach waterski area in 2010. One of the recommendations of the coroner’s report was that a review of the relevant legislation be carried out to ensure that it is adequate and carries sufficient deterrent for unlawful use and that members of the AFP and ACT Policing have sufficient powers to enforce relevant legislation, including the issuing of infringement notices and the carrying out of random alcohol and drug testing.
The ACT lake managers’ forum agreed that the Lakes Act and Lakes Ordinance amendments should be modelled on the maritime safety laws of New South Wales, specifically the NSW Marine Safety Regulation 2016. The New South Wales regulations are the most relevant to the ACT, based on the fact that they are current and reflect best practice in maritime regulation. Further, given that water and boat