Vic Labor targets recreational boating costs

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Labor election policy promises to abolish local parking and launching fees.

With less than three week to go until the Victorian state election, the incumbent Labor government has promised that, if re-elected, it will abolish all boat ramp parking and launching fees and ensure that all revenue raised via licence and registration fees will be spent on upgrading boating safety and facilities.

The announcement effectively matches that of the opposition Liberal-National Coalition which previously proposed using all boating revenues to set up a new Blue Infrastructure Fund to pay for boating facility improvements.

In response, Victoria Labor is pledging to establish a Better Boating Fund which will focus on urgent boat ramp upgrades including at Mordialloc, Queenscliff, Point Richards, Hastings and Rhyll.

Abolishing boat ramp parking fees will save boaters up to $315 a year on an annual parking permit, according to Premier Daniel Andrews. Instead, the government will pay about $4 million to local councils to remove the fees.

“Victorian boaters already pay licence and rego fees, they shouldn’t also have to pay local councils up to hundreds of dollars just to use boat ramps – so we’ll scrap these fees to make boating accessible for everyone,” he said.

Steve Walker, CEO of the Boating Industry Association of Victoria which has led a concerted campaign to get infrastructure funding on the election agenda, welcomed Labor's announcement.

“It's generally very positive,” he said. “It was a long-time coming and we have been asking for a long time but, all in all, a very good announcement.”

With both major parties making similar commitments if elected, Walker said the focus now will be on making sure whoever wins delivers on their promises. The Liberal National Coalition has said the Victorian Ports Corporation Melbourne (VPCM) will be appointed to manage marine infrastructure development in the state whereas Labor will manage its fund using current processes. Walker said BIAV didn't mind which method of delivery was used so long as there is a strategic approach to governance.

“We want a strategic approach which looks at where demand is and where the population growth is taking place.

“The main point is that whoever wins is aware of the problems and has committed to addressing them.”

Other details from the Victorian Labor party announcement include growing the fish stocking program to 10 million a year by 2022 and building a new $7 million native fish hatchery in Shepparton. It will also end commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes and buy out the remaining commercial fishing licences to boost recreational fishing in the region.

For dedicated fishos, VicRoads will also offer a new range of recreational fishing designed licence plates for cars, introduced as part of the range of custom plates.

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