MSQ cracks down on plate compliance

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Boat show audit highlights issues with Australian Builders Plate in Queensland.

Following an on-the-spot audit, a third of the boats inspected by Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) officials during the recent Brisbane Boat Show were found not to be compliant with the Australian Builders Plate standards.

Prior to the show, MSQ informed the Boating Industry Association (BIA) that it would be carrying out an audit of boats on display. As a result, it reviewed 48 boats and determined that 16 were not compliant with the requirement to fit an Australian Builders Plate (ABP). These included boats that had no ABP fitted, boats fitted with European CE plates, and boats with the US NMMA plates.

The Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 in Queensland states that a person must not sell a boat without an ABP being fixed. The definition of 'sell' also includes “offer or display for sale” as was the case at the Brisbane Boat Show.

Aaron Goodchild from Brisbane Yamaha described the audit process as “bullshit” and “bureaucracy gone crazy”, pointing out that simply having a plate attached doesn't make a boat any more or less safe.

“There's no logic to it. The only requirement is to fit an Australian Builders Plate. You can build a cardboard boat in your backyard, put a builders plate on it and that's compliant. All it does is transfer liability to whoever puts the plate on,” he said.

Glen Grams from Queensland boat builder, Baysport Boats, said he was “appalled” by the way in which the audit had been carried out and “disgusted” by the BIA for allowing it to be undertaken at the show.

“It's a messy situation,” he commented. “All our boats definitely conform but unfortunately some people got caught with their pants down.”

Grams added that more needed to be done to educate the industry about the requirement to have ABPs fitted. While the standard has in operation for several years, he said it was only recently that Queensland had decided to introduce penalties for non-compliance. As a result, many people in the industry were still unaware they could be fined. The maximum penalty for not fixing an ABP on a boat in Queensland is 50 penalty units or $6,527.

According to the BIA, all builders and/or importers affected by the audit will be contacted by MSQ in the next two weeks to obtain an official statement from them explaining why an ABP was not fitted prior to the boat being displayed at the show. The Transport and Main Roads prosecutions team will then review the evidence and statements to determine which builders they may seek to prosecute for non-compliance.

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