Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:01): I would like to rise to make a brief contribution and support the initiative of this motion. I rise in support of the member for Hammond's amended motion because I think it covers a much broader range of the issues on water, not just marine waters but also inland waters, and how vulnerable boat users can be when they get themselves in distress or into a sticky situation that might need either a rescue or support.
It is important that all marine areas have satisfactory safety standards and satisfactory support. As a very keen, avid recreational fisher and as a former minister for fisheries, I have seen only too well some of the situations and strife that the commercial sector right along the coastline in South Australia but also visitors and tourists as recreational fishers get themselves into not only in the marine situation but in inland waters. A lot of it is ignorance. A lot of it is that they are ill-prepared or not aware of what situations can arise and how some of those emergency situations can turn into a catastrophe, a loss of life and also a very costly exercise not only for the commercial sector but for the recreational sector.
As the member from Mount Gambier has said, he is looking for more consideration to be given at Port MacDonnell. The member for Narungga is looking after his patch down at Marion Bay and Point Turton. I am sure that many members in this place who have coastline in their electorate are looking for better support in emergency situations.
I, too, have been out in a recreational situation where recreational fishers have looked after their neighbour—fishing neighbour, you might call it—when they need a tow in because of a breakdown or malfunction. Normally it is kosher to swap a carton of beer for a tow, and it is happy days. But when you get yourself into an open sea situation, like potentially what will happen at Port MacDonnell, Marion Bay, Ceduna or any of our open coastline, it becomes a financial compromise, whether it is a commercial fisher or a recreational fisher. In some cases it is not just about boat malfunction or breakdown, but it can be crew who have become very ill. That is when we sometimes see air rescue or sea rescue play a role.
What we must also understand is that on inland waters there are a number of situations that have arisen over time. I guess the most recent flood would highlight the situations on the Murray, where we have seen emergency service vessels being put out there either to rescue or to help with something that has arisen, through no fault of a boat operator, in an inland situation.
We all need to understand that governments have a role to play. I notice that the government have taken away the words 'state government' in terms of assistance. Well, I think that is really shirking a responsibility. State governments have a role to play. I see that, over time, state governments have diversified some of the funding that has gone into marine funding, whether it is the South Australian Boating Facilities Fund, whether it is the emergency services levy, or whether it is cost recovery.
I would like to reinforce what the member for Narungga has said, which is that we have a model that is broken. The cost-recovery model, particularly in commercial fishing, is definitely a broken model. It is just that: cost recovery. What we are seeing is government departments that are realising what the cost of operating a commercial sector is, and then they just share it up within the licences. We have seen, over a much-needed reform into the commercial scalefish sector, that there are many fewer fishing licences now, by over some 100 licences. That cost recovery is now being shared by a very few commercial operators.
As we have seen, a 400 per cent, 500 per cent or 600 per cent increase in that cost recovery is now going to put further pressure on the viability of a wild catch commercial sector and what it will mean for the availability of those very businesses that are out on the water and that are being called for in an emergency situation. If we are going to have fewer boats on the water, there will be less opportunity for those very same vessels to respond to an emergency situation. That is nowhere more evident than in the South-East, where it is open coastline, open water.
We see a number of situations that arise every season, where boats have to be towed in or have to call for assistance under duress. I think it is the role of government, whether it be federal or state, to come to some form of an understanding of what their responsibility is, instead of hiding under a desk, which they are currently doing.
In the short time that I have left, I must say that it is an opportune time to acknowledge some of the volunteers who are out there in our SES inland marine units and some of those paid marine and fisheries officers who are out on our waters, making sure that people are compliant and making sure that vessels are safe and are being managed in a safe and proper way.
I guess it would be improper to claim that the commercial sector would be operating in an improper way, but I cannot say that for the recreational sector. There are many who are inexperienced. A lot of those vessels that sit in a shed in for most of the year all of a sudden get brought out for holiday time, with a lack of maintenance and with a lack of preparation. We will then see those very boats putting human lives at risk, whether it is being stranded at sea or being unfamiliar with the weather conditions. It happens, and it potentially happens on a daily basis.
So it is about the volunteer rescue network. For many of us who go out and use marine radios, when we are going out we like to check in with some of the volunteer marine radio operators. I know Garry at Tumby, Carol at American River, John at Ardrossan and Peter at Ceduna. They are a few of the volunteer radio operators I have conversed with, and I thank them for their tireless effort in making sure that people radio in when they are heading out and radio in when they are coming back to the jetty or the ramp or the marina of whatever description to help keep our waters a safer place to operate.
It is also important that we make sure our tourists, recreational marine users and boat users in both the marine and inland environments all have licences. Something I have watched over a long period of time is that we are not seeing fisheries officers or marine safety officers going out into a regional setting and doing licence tests. I know that there are a number of young boat operators, particularly in the Riverland, who do not have the opportunity to come down to Adelaide to sit for a licence test, so they are operating a boat without a licence. That is the responsibility of the government. The presence of marine fisheries officers is not only in marine waters; it has to be in inland waters too.
I must say that, with the South Australian Boating Facilities Fund, we must do more with the support for our marine and inland water operators. We have seen money that should be used for boating facilities now being used for channel markers and lighting for channels, so I think it is important that we put a perspective right across the board. I do support this motion, but I think it needs to be extended and I think the government needs to take more responsibility.