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MP launches bill to make life jackets compulsory for kids

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga

MP for Maungakiekie  

3 September 2013  

Media Statement

MP launches bill to make life jackets compulsory for kids

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, MP for Maungakiekie, has today launched a Member’s Bill to make the default position for the wearing of life jackets compulsory for young people under the age of 15. This requirement will be enforced on vessels 6 metres in length and under.

“Even though life jacket wearing rates have increased markedly in recent years, many boat users still do not wear life jackets regularly. As a consequence, fatalities that could have been avoided on our waters continue to occur.” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“Analysis of boating accidents shows that capsizes and other events are often unexpected and boat users have little or no opportunity to put on their life jackets. I have seen this first-hand in my own electorate of Maungakiekie where a father and his 7 year old son tragically drowned in the Manukau Harbour in May of last year. Their dinghy capsized and sadly they were not wearing life jackets.”

“Research has shown that between 2000 and 2009 there were 173 recreational boating fatalities. This is an average of 17 deaths per year. Analysis of the fatalities showed that 85% of them occurred in boats less than 6 metres in length. Life jackets, if worn, would have had a high likelihood of preventing a fatality in 66% of accidents.”

“More recently, from June 2009 to June 2012, the rate of boating fatalities remains at 17 per year. This toll would have been lower if more people had been wearing life jackets.” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“I have the support of Water Safety New Zealand, Maritime New Zealand and Coastguard New Zealand. They all recommend the default wearing of life jackets on small recreational vessels. This is a measure that could immediately reduce the number of fatalities in the recreational boating sector.”

“My bill will not bear any additional costs to boaties because life jackets are already required by law to be carried on-board at all times.”

“This bill only relates to children under the age of 15. This is because the minimum age required for skippering a boat is 15 under Maritime Regulations. I expect a select committee to examine whether this requirement should be extended to boaties of all ages.”

“I want to thank Oliver Collette-Moxon who assisted me with the drafting of this bill. It promotes the safety, security and protection of our children on the water and I look forward to discussing this important issue with all New Zealanders.” Mr Lotu-Iiga says

ENDS

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