boating registration fees – where do they go

Marine Alliance Executive Officer – Bruce Douglas, met recently with Jeanette
Powell MP - Minister for Local Government, in the company of John Watson
(Dept. Secretary – Department of Planning and Community Development) and
Jeff Kennett ( our former Premier).
This meeting provided the chance to raise the issue of the deployment (or not as
the case may be) of the funds raised through boat registrations and the point was
made that currently, Councils with coastal marine infrastructure management
responsibilities were not being well served by the allocation of these funds
through the limited distribution of Marine Safety and Facilities Grants.
Although there was not time to go into detail with the Minister offered to consider
the issue and said that she would refer our concerns to the relevant Minister (for
The issues raised with the Minister for Local Govt. are as follows;
Grants program scope widening
That the Alliance supports a change in the legislation to more strongly
support councils (and other coastal infrastructure managers), which are missing
out on much needed financial support and hampered by the current grants
process. This can be done by;
By broadening the scope of the grants program provisions under the Boating
Safety Act to provide funds in the following order of priority, for cyclic
maintenance, refurbishment, renewal and upgrade of facilities.
This approach is consistent with sound asset management principles and is one
the alliance strongly encourages and supports.
Proper use of fees collected through Boating registrations.
The Alliance is also strongly of the view that an undertaking from government
must be obtained that all the funds it collects from boat registration fees will be
disbursed in accordance with the provisions of the Act in a transparent and
accountable manner. This appears not to be the case at present where a
significant proportion of funds are consumed by govt. to meet operational
expenditure which may not be related to marine facilities management or safety
program provision.
The case is outlined herender;
Boating registrations bring in approximately $10m per annum
Grants through the Boating safety and Facilities Grants program return $2m per
This highlights an $8m per annum anomaly because the Order in Council
establishing the registration fee collection and disbursement powers of
Government, explicitly states that these funds must be returned for boating
facilities and safety program implementation.
There would appear to be a lack of accountability and indeed compliance with
the provisions of the Act as to where the balance of funds collected are spent,
there needs to be evidence that these funds are being used for their intended
(statutory) purpose.
All public boat launching facilities currently exhibit significant deficiencies and or
defects and (most?) do not meet current Australian Standards.
These deficiencies reflect a diminished level of safety and amenity for users and
significantly increase the risk of damage to vessels or injury to patrons.
The current facilities also do not have adequate capacity to meet current user
demands and the poor levels of amenity and safety combined with substantial
congestion at peak times, causes many potential boating users from committing
to an active involvement and the purchase of a craft.
The current grants funding rules do not provide funds for management authorities
(councils) to apply for funding for refurbishment or cyclic maintenance activities
and funds may only be applied for upgrade works.
Authorities are restrained in even making application for funding for upgrade
works because of the substantial effort required to address the planning and
environmental approval and design requirements and to the have a "construction
ready" project that can be delivered in the relatively short time allowed for the
expenditure of the funds if they are granted.
The timing of the application and grants allocations does not marry well into the
financial and budget planning for the authorities who are reluctant to commit
matching funding if they are not certain of a successful grant application.
Advice provided to the Government in 2009 indicated that the capital requirement
to address Australian Standards compliance and capacity upgrades to meet
current demands is in the order of $100m
The application of the $8m difference between funds collected and funds
disbursed by the State Government would without any increase in boating user
registration fees, see the infrastructure gap closed comfortably within 12 to15
Furthermore, the ongoing application of these funds and the consequent growth
in the market due to increasing participation, would enable a planned program of
upgrades to continue to meet the known suppressed and projected demands for
this infrastructure.
A direct benefit of the use of the funds as outlined would be an increase in
participation in boating, and significant growth in sales, consumables,
servicing and associated equipment purchases.
Our market sector is estimated to be worth $1bn to the State economy and
provides 14000 jobs.
Based on the current size of this market, an increase in participation of 5% may
be conservatively estimated to generate an additional 300 jobs. Spending the
funds in the manner requested clearly offers good value to the community.
The Alliance has written to the Minister seeking her support for the following
measures to be taken to meet the needs of both the facility providers and boating
Review the use of boating registration revenue funding to ensure that it is
directed in total in a transparent and accountable manner, to boating facility and
safety program implementation in accordance with S312 of Boating Safety Act.
To broaden the scope of the use of grants funding to enable effective and
ongoing support for provision of funds in the following order of priority, for cyclic
maintenance, refurbishment, renewal and upgrade of facilities.