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Freshwater boat safety under review

Following a high number of incidents and fatalities, safety on the Murray River and Lakes Hume and Mulwala is under review.

NSW Minister for Ports and Waterways, Paul McLeay said since 1992 there had been 287 incidents, resulting in 28 fatalities and 115 serious injuries on the famous waterways. Over the past summer there were a further four deaths and seven serious incidents; 80 per cent of boating incidents in the area had involved Victorian registered vessels.

“I am concerned about the number of boating incidents in the region. It is our responsibility to look at what can be done to improve safety.”

“After a first-hand look at the waterways and listening to the community’s concerns, I instructed NSW Maritime to carry out a safety review,” McLeay said.

NSW Maritime has conducted meetings with community and stakeholder groups, such as councils, local police, boating clubs, fishing groups, tourism bodies, passive craft users, water sports clubs and commercial operators. Key issues raised include: resourcing, alcohol, speed, wash, towing and education initiatives.

Marine Safety Victoria has also been involved in all stakeholder meetings and will have a significant role in the review.

“This cross-border collaboration is important as the area has a very large number of Victorian boaters,” McLeay said.

Country Labor’s Tony Catanzariti said the review aims to identify critical safety issues and identify common factors, trends and patterns.

“We will also be looking to ensure an appropriate regulatory scheme is in place, and that safe-boating education and compliance programs are as effective as possible.”

The safety review is expected to be made available for public comment prior to being introduced next boating season.

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