Legislation passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday (22nd February) will make amendments to the Lakes ACT 1976 to make water-based activities safer and to encourage people to use Canberra’s picturesque lakes.
According to the Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman, the changes to the Act were made with the public’s’ safety in mind and the amendments will ensure that all boats are operated in a safe and responsible manner.
“These significant amendments to the Lakes Act 1976 will encourage greater safety for Canberrans using our beautiful lakes for recreation use at Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, Molonglo Reach and Kingston Harbour,” Mr Gentleman said.
As part of the new rules in the legislation, all small boat users will have to wear life jackets as well as allowing electric powered boats to operate without a permit if they travel at less than 10 knots.
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New drug and alcohol laws consistent with road transport legislation which will be enforceable by the ACT Water Police was also introduced.
“The new legislation will introduce fines of up to $7500 and/or up to one year in prison for individuals committing offences that pose a risk to public safety, such as the inappropriate use of drug and alcohol,” Mr Gentleman said.
The changes to the Act will not affect the activities currently permitted on ACT waterways, with the existing rules banning power boats and jet skis not affected by the changes.
The legislation will also introduce cross-jurisdictional arrangements for users of Lake Burley Griffin, Kingston Harbour and Molonglo Reach which currently crossover between the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority, who regulate Lake Burley Griffin.
Local lake users will no longer need to obtain approval from both the ACT and Commonwealth Governments, with users only needing one permit to enjoy all of Canberra’s lakes.