Fees for boating licences are set to soar under changes that came into effect on 01 July 2024.

The Boating Industry Association (BIA) has slammed fee increases for boating a ‘windfall’ and ‘surprise tax’. The increases apply to personal watercraft (PWC) and boats that are required to be registered with Transport for NSW (TfNSW).

BIA spokesperson Neil Patchett disputed claims by TfNSW that the increases on boat licencing fees were modest and necessary to fund the department’s work.

Neil Patchett

Neil Patchett

“Transport for NSW already charges the highest fees in the nation for people to go recreational boating. Claims increases are mostly no more than $35 masks the fact that, as an example, a 3-year general boat driver licence will go up by 19 percent. This is more than triple what the CPI [Consumer Price Index] figure should be and some of the fee increases go as high as 88 percent.

“Compounding the concern is the lack of appropriate consultation. For the first time in more than 20 years, TfNSW has gone against its own policy which is to adjust fees in line with CPI.

“The new fees will result in tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue from the boating public, made up of everyday Australian families trying to make ends meet in a cost-of-living crises,” said Mr Patchett.

Pittwater MP Rory Amon

Member for Pittwater Rory Amon (image above, centre) has also weighed into the issue, calling the increases ‘outrageous’ and a further attack on Pittwater.

“A 10-year PWC licence fee will increase to almost $2,000, possibly placing the exhilarating recreation out of reach for many families and adversely impacting on businesses who sell and service watercraft.

“To increase these recreational fees at a time during a cost-of-living crisis demonstrates how much out of touch the Minns Labor Government is.

“In response to a Question on Notice, the Government has advised me there are approximately 500 jet-skis in the Pittwater and Wakehurst electorates. All users will be worse off under these fee hikes. I have also asked a question in Parliament seeking answer from Government about how many Pittwater residents will be impacted and what the cost will be.

“These outrageous increases have been implemented without consultation with licence holders or industry stakeholders. I have moved a Notice of Motion in Parliament highlighting Pittwater’s strong boating community and that during a cost-of-living crisis the Government’s proposal will increase PWC licence fees by up to 88 percent and boating licence fees by up to 30 percent.

“I have emphasised the increases have taken place without reference to stakeholders and have called on Government to abandon the changes, pending proper consultation. This is a test of the Minns Labor Government. Is it listening to the boating public and is it being respectful of the calls for due process before any increases are introduced or continued?

“The boating fraternity of Pittwater and beyond is seeking an appropriate response,” said Mr Amon.

Jet-ski tows surfer into wave

According to the BIA, there is already a ‘massive disparity’ between boating fees in NSW and the rest of the country.

“The massive disparity in boating licence fees in NSW compared to the neighbouring States of Queensland and Victoria is alarming. A 10-year licence fee for a personal watercraft in NSW already eclipses $1,000 and the new proposal aims to increase that to almost $2,000. 

“This compares to $124 for a lifetime licence for a personal watercraft in Queensland, and $45 for an annual licence in Victoria. In addition, Queensland and Victoria have chosen to hold fees as they are and to not apply CPI.

“Meanwhile a licence in Queensland is $124 for either a boat or a PWC, and that is a one-off fee for life. In NSW a licence will range from $77 to $245 a year,” claims the BIA.

The impact of the fee increases caused one boater on social media to double-check whether the increases were true or ‘fake news’, only to have their fears confirmed. Another person expressed dismay after their mooring fees increased by ten percent in a single year.

The Boating Industry Association Ltd has started a petition, which has already garnered over 4,400 signatures, to oppose the fee increases, and set them to be in line with CPI.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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