The Sydney International Boat Show has concluded and we thank all Exhibitors for their feedback in the recent questionnaire. Your input will help us shape the approach to government and event partners, along with our efforts to continually improve the event for all involved.

We are now focused on supporting industry across our key priorities: to grow participation in recreational boating; advocacy to government; delivering membership services and programs, such as safe marine business; and to re-focus on our skills, training and jobs campaigns and programs.

Across the upcoming editions of eNews series, I shall focus on our deliverable objectives for our valued members and industry in general. I want all members to have a solid understanding of what the BIA is achieving on your behalf. Today’s eNews will focus on Government Advocacy, including policy work and compliance.

Our advocacy agenda, headed by Neil Patchett, General Manager Government and Public Relations, adds his more than 30 years of national and international specialist marine sector experience spanning media, maritime regulators, boating legislation, government relations, maritime incident and issue management, boating promotion and safety equipment standards. His background includes experience as Chair of numerous State and National marine groups, and work with all maritime regulators and key NGO across Australia and New Zealand, as well as in PNG, US, Canada, France and Britain, and the WHO in drowning prevention.

Nik Parker is our General Manager Membership Services and is also a Chartered Engineer with a degree in Naval Architecture, and brings a background of over 25 years involvement with developing ISO standards, (including six years as chairman of the TC188 international committee), along with 12 years as chair of Standards Australia’s (SA) Small Craft committee.

Both Nik and Neil have also clocked up considerable sea time and their combined knowledge within BIA is used daily to help manage a range of issues across our four key priority areas. Together they form an experienced and trusted team who have built invaluable stocks in capability and reputation for the BIA across governments and departments throughout Australia and New Zealand, and internationally.

In our advocacy piece, (which is today’s theme for this column), we represent our members both proactively and reactively to changes in government policies and regulations. We represent as a stakeholder in all relevant debates and hold numerous advisory positions. That is why BIA is representing the industry on 47 committees across Local, State, National and International levels.

Our advocacy covers many disciplines including:

  • Participation in boating
  • Safe, responsible and enjoyable boating
  • Marinas & Boatyards eg., lease policy, regulations and master planning
  • Infrastructure & Access eg., boating facilities, dredging
  • Marine Jobs, skills and training eg., government and RTO support

Current activities by BIA Advocacy have included in-person meetings and/ or briefings with the following:

  • National AUSMAS the Strategic Workforce Advisory Panel relating to the marine sector
  • National, AMSA eg., the authority’s peak consultative forum, the National Safety Committee
  • National, Australian Recreational Boating Safety Committee eg., the HIN
  • National, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations eg., apprentices
  • National, Jobs and Skills Australia to advocate for recognition of the value and demand for trade apprenticeships across the sector
  • National, Standards Australia eg., boating safety equipment and safer vessels
  • NSW Chair and Vice Chair of the NSW Parliamentary group related to boating
  • NSW Commercial Vessels Advisory Group
  • NSW Crown Lands
  • NSW Maritime Property Advisory Group
  • NSW Minister for Police
  • NSW Minister for Transport, Jo Haylen
  • NSW maritime regulator’s policy and strategy team
  • NSW Recreational Boating Advisory Group
  • NSW TAFE eg., marine jobs
  • NSW, Transport for NSW head of maritime regulator’s policy and strategy team
  • Qld Manufacturing Skills Qld re., Advance Manufacturing Skills and Training Reference Group
  • Qld Department of Youth Justice, Employment, Small Business and Training (formerly DESBT)
  • Qld TAFE eg., marine jobs
  • Qld Transport & Main Roads eg., consultants working on the review of the Qld commercial marina lease policy
  • QLD MSQ eg., BIA held an in-person meeting with Maritime Safety Queensland on issues including safe vessels, maritime infrastructure, access and storage
  • South Australian government eg., seeking establishment of a peak consultative body to represent all key sectors of boating in that State
  • Trans-Tasman, ANZSBEG which is the trans-Tasman group of maritime regulators and NGO eg., end-of-life vessels and responsible boat ownership.

Our core objectives in our relationship with Government are to promote:

  • and protect access to waterways and associated infrastructure
  • support for business
  • private investment in the boating industry and viable commercial relationships with Government
  • safe boating and a safe and responsible boating industry
  • environmentally sustainable practices in boating and the boating industry.

In the most recent engagement with Minister Haylen at the Sydney International Boat Show, BIA stressed the need for Government to appreciate the value of boating as a leisure activity for people of all ages, abilities and budgets.

BIA pressed for Government to maintain and exceed current programs to support delivery of safe, convenient and accessible infrastructure. This included the need to maintain and build upon efforts to deliver new and improved boat ramps and pontoons across the State; to ensure affordable mooring options; to support storage solutions esp., for trailerable boats such as dry stacks and appropriate street parking; and deliver a funded dredging strategy for NSW to ensure our coastal communities experience the social and economic benefits arising from being destinations linked by the ‘blue highway’.

We called upon the NSW Government to support industry confidence and investment through appropriate policies, strategies, programs, projects and legislative tools to support participation, encourage business investment, job creation and the significant industry contribution to society and the economy. Marinas feature heavily in this work.

BIA reinforced the value of the Waterways Fund and that it must continue to plough its revenue from boating fees and charges back into Government products, programs and services for the boating public as intended under the Ports and Maritime Administration Act 1995; to maintain support for the Minister’s Maritime Advisory Council so it continues to meet as the peak consultative body in NSW on matters ranging from infrastructure to safety.

We also called for efforts to maintain and build upon the Maritime Infrastructure Plan which is scheduled to be reviewed this year; and that it should incorporate a Property Strategic approach within the Plan. BIA is working to have this capture the department’s responsibilities to its customers (recreational boating public and wetland lease holders) under the hypothecated Waterways Fund and to put these ‘customers’ at the centre of everything they do in the maritime context to mitigate against this legislated focus being depleted and or lost within the supercluster agency.

Andrew Scott

Main photo above: BIA is working to improve government policy settings for marinas in multiple states in order to support the economic, environmental and social benefits such infrastructure can deliver. Photo credit: Scarborough Marina.