The Federal Department of Infrastructure has proposed amendments to current legislations for operators of canoes and kayaks. These amendments would impose a levy charged to operators of canoes and kayaks, for each vessel they own with the price increasing annually.
Proposed annual levy
- 2019/20 $44 PER KAYAK
- 2020/21 $104 PER KAYAK
- 2021/22 $167 PER KAYAK
- 2022/23 $193 PER KAYAK
The public have been provided with a less than adequate consultation period, and other support organisations in these sectors have not been given sufficient time to evaluate the proposed changes.
No justification has been provided for these changes, other than it being for safety reasons. Some schools may allegedly be exempt from this outrageous levy yet no reasoning has been provided for these exemptions. With safety in mind, and schools being exempt, it is difficult to see how safety has possibly been taken into consideration when proposing these amendments. Organisations go to great lengths to ensure the utmost safety of their clients, locations are chosen carefully, the weather, client abilities and all other variables are taken seriously and can regularly mean activities are cancelled due to their risk.
Furthermore, kayak and canoe instructors go through rigorous and expensive training to become qualified to take groups of people out on water.
There is no supplied cost benefit analysis for the proposed changes no assessment of the inevitable impact on small businesses, outdoor recreation and education experience. The funds raised by the law do not appear to, in any way, benefit or provide service improvements to kayak and canoe users.
Essentially, these changes may see many people go out of business, or fall into severe financial crisis. These costs will affect fleet owners disproportionately. In comparison to other vessel operators such as powered crafts, kayaks have very different operational issues. Kayaks hold one or two people, and an organisation may have anywhere between twenty, to one hundred and fifty kayaks. This tax would likely cause small touring, third-party activity and education businesses to go out of business altogether.
Whilst the type, and location of operation effects the amount of tax being paid, these costs do not accurately reflect the level of risk involved, or the likelihood of rescue required. This means that some operators would be cross subsidising other operations with higher risk.
A canoe or kayak fleet operating on “smooth” or inland waters, such as their own property dam, will pay more than a large vessel operating in extended offshore operations or unlimited domestic operations. It is very unlikely that the owner of the aforementioned canoe or kayak fleet would require rescue assistance, whilst the larger vessel is far more likely to require significant search and rescue resources.
Training for canoeing and kayaking will dramatically decrease with the introduction of this levy, as providers may not be able to afford, or keep up with the costs. In turn, the number of inexperienced paddlers undertaking on-water activities is likely to increase. This will ultimately reduce the safety of kayaking and canoeing, as opposed to increasing it as the AMSA suggests would be the case, with the introduction of the amended legislations. The law paradoxically reduces the safety of the system.
The amended levy will see a huge reduction in the availability of canoe and kayak programs available to students, as schools will be unable to afford the costs – whether it be the cost of a fleet of vessels for the school to own independently, or the cost passed on to them by the third party activity providers.
Outdoor recreation and education plays a huge role in government attempts (both state and federal) to encourage more active lifestyles to Australians. If AMSA were to go through with the proposed amendments, we would surely see a significant impact on this as well as a severe cost burden on the Federal and State Health budgets.
Have your say
Consultation closes 30 April 2018.
Public consultation submission details are at: https://infrastructure.gov.au/maritime/consultation/index.aspx