16 May 2019

New fines for not wearing a life jacket or drinking while operating a boat on ACT lakes

| Glynis Quinlan
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Lake Ginninderra

New safety rules and offences have come into effect for ACT-managed lakes, such as Lake Ginninderra (pictured). Photo: Glynis Quinlan.

Anyone operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol on ACT-managed lakes may face fines of up to $7,500 and/or receive up to one year in prison under new safety rules and offences which have come into effect in the territory.

People not wearing or carrying a life jacket when required to do so may also receive on-the-spot fines of $300.

The new rules only apply to ACT-managed lakes, which include Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, Kingston Harbour and the Molonglo River above Lake Burley Griffin.

They don’t apply to the main part of Lake Burley Griffin, which is regulated by the National Capital Authority, but the Commonwealth is in the process of reviewing the legislation that applies to Lake Burley Griffin to ensure consistency with the new ACT laws.

ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said the new safety rules and offences will make the ACT’s waterways safer places for Canberrans to enjoy.

“We want more Canberrans to use our beautiful lakes and we want them to be safe,” Mr Gentleman said.

“These new rules are now in effect and will help keep boat users safe and help prevent injury to other lake users.”

Mr Gentleman said the updated ACT Lakes Act and new regulation introduces offences including on-the-spot fines for behaviours and actions that represent a risk to lake users.

“The ACT Water Police and Access Canberra will enforce the legislation,” he said.

Mr Gentleman said that some of the offences that will attract fines include:

  • operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • not wearing or carrying a life jacket where required
  • not carrying required safety equipment on a boat
  • operating an unregistered boat
  • breaching a condition of boat registration
  • exceeding the speed limit
  • exceeding the boat’s allowed power rating
  • operating power boats near swimming areas
  • misconduct on power boats and interfering with navigation aids and/or safety equipment
  • contravening required boat lighting requirements when operating in low visibility or at night.

For a full list of offences and penalties click here.

Mr Gentleman said the changes are in line with other jurisdictions, particularly NSW.

“The regulation supports the 2018 amendments to the Lakes Act 1976 and was developed in consultation with the ACT lakes managers, regulators and users groups,” he said.

Further information is available on the Access Canberra website.

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What is not made clear in this article is what is a boat ?

They also have not clearly defined what the required safety articles are, they have merely noted that if you don’t have all required safety equipment then you will be fined.

If you don’t know what the required safety equipment is, how does this enable you to find out ?

Do I now need to register my Kayak and Windsurfer in accordance with the registration requirements ?

Do I need to wear a lifejacket when I’m in the same ?

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