After many years of campaigning by the Queensland Recreational Boating Council we are delighted to advise of the following.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads
The Honourable Mark Bailey
WoW taskforce will take wrecks to town
The Palaszczuk Government has upped the stakes in its war on wrecked boats and their negligent owners, creating a crack taskforce team to prioritise the worst derelict vessels and remove them from the state’s waterways.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the move was putting the small minority of irresponsible boat owners who pollute our waterways on notice.
“Put simply, it is the owner’s responsibility to remove their vessel if it becomes unserviceable or wrecked,” Mr Bailey said.
“If an irresponsible boat owner refuses to clean up for themselves, our taskforce will be coming after them.
“The Palaszczuk Government has done much to support boat owners in this state, including an additional $30 million added to the Marine Infrastructure Fund included in this year’s budget, and we know how important boating is to Queenslanders.
“The War on Wrecks (WoW) taskforce goes further – helping to remove these eyesores and navigational and environmental hazards so all Queenslanders can better enjoy our waterways.
“We will be seeking feedback from communities across Queensland to help us identify the worst derelict vessels, and will use our recently announced $20 million WoW fighting fund to remove these ships.
“We want to ensure vessel owners understand and meet their responsibilities from maiden voyage to final mooring and, more importantly, we want to ensure negligent owners are held to account,” Mr Bailey said.
“Derelict vessels are an ongoing and increasing threat to Queensland waters.”
Mr Bailey said the taskforce would be chaired by Member for Redlands Kim Richards, deputy chaired by the Mayor of Douglas Shire Council Julia Leu, and supported by government and non-government membership.
In assuming the new responsibility Ms Richards, whose electorate includes Moreton Bay, coastline and the SMBI islands, said current strategies in place to deal with irresponsible vessel owners leaving derelict vessels in our waterways were not addressing the issue effectively.
“Dealing with waterways management issues and the ongoing problem of derelict vessels requires a multi-pronged approach including removal of existing derelict vessels and a range of strategies to prevent vessels from becoming derelict in the first place,” she said.
“Prevention is better than cure and we need to alter the behaviour of negligent vessel owners when it comes to disposal of their vessels past their use by date.
“That’s why I have accepted leadership of this taskforce to navigate complex waterways and vessel management issues to improve individual accountability and responsible vessel ownership.”
Mayor Leu said she was proud to represent local government as deputy chair of the taskforce.
“We know how much these wrecks can spoil our beautiful waterways in Douglas Shire, so I am looking forward to working with other communities across the state to help fix this problem,” she said.
“Ultimately all wrecks could be seen as illegal dumping with potential to have a detrimental impact on our waterways.
“They can also pose a serious safety hazard during large tides or other weather events.”
Mr Bailey said the taskforce would consult with Queenslanders everywhere, and recognised the need for shared responsibility across government, business and the community.
“The taskforce will deliver an interim report to me six months after the taskforce forms, which will include recommendations on how this can be achieved,” he said.
“I will expect the taskforce to progress towards achieving a long-term vision, where owners are able to take responsibility for their vessels for their entire lifecycle, and all Queenslanders can enjoy safer, cleaner seas.”
“We continue to emphasise that vessel owners are responsible for maintaining their vessels and either repairing or removing them from water if they become derelict or a wreck.
“However with more than 260,000 registered recreational vessels and about 15,000 commercial vessels operating in Queensland there are still some owners and operators who simply don’t accept their responsibilities to protect our waterways.
“There is a general expectation in the community the government will act to remove their abandoned vessels at public cost but this is not the answer.
“This brief will extend beyond derelict vessels to include matters such as waterways management, anchorages, buoy moorings and living aboard vessels, access to boating infrastructure, vessel disposal options, and visual amenity which continue to impact our environment and community.”
The taskforce will consider key issues and various policy options in the development of recommendations to the Palaszczuk Government, including:
* a review of the effectiveness of existing efforts to address waterway management and derelict vessels in Queensland
* Identify the causal factors that contribute to undesirable waterway management and vessel ownership behaviours.
* investigate best practice strategies that other national and international regulators have successfully implemented to address these factors
* identify new strategies and initiatives that can be successfully implemented in Queensland to address the issues and assess their impact
* consider options to improve levels of coordination and collaboration of existing efforts at the local, regional and state level
Mr Bailey said it was important for the community have a say in the effective management of their waterways.
“That is why I have asked my department to write to key boating industry and community groups as well as the relevant government departments, to be a part of this taskforce and help shape the management of our waterways for the safety and enjoyment of all Queenslanders.”
FOLLOW Us @QldBoatCouncil #QldRecBoatCouncil