If boaties opt against wearing their life jackets and drown – it’s the Govt’s fault how, exactly?

There’s been lots of huffing and puffing in the aftermath of 3 News delving into the Government decision not to make it compulsory to wear life-jackets on all small water craft.

It seems Transport Minister Steven Joyce backed off the idea just a week before it was to be signed off.

The reversal was made despite official advice saying the change could help prevent 10 deaths a year.

Now one maritime expert says the Government must take some responsibility for unnecessary deaths.

How so?

The TV3 report went on to say boaties continue to head out on to the Waitemata Harbour without wearing a lifejacket.

It further explained they don’t have to wear them – it’s only compulsory to carry them.

We may suppose that those who are sensible and give some importance to their self-preservation will choose to wear them.

If this be so, we may suppose those who are not sensible and give no importance to their self-preservation won’t wear them.

Some of these will pay heavily for their failure or their negligence or whatever you want to call it and will drown.

And whose fault will that be?

Oh – it will be the Government’s fault.

It will have facilitated their deaths, according to the ludicrous logic of the harpies.

“If we keep allowing people to drown themselves, unless we make a rule change and start affecting some compliance on it, we’re going to continue to see more deaths,” says editor of Professional Skipper Magazine Keith Ingram.

The TV3 piece cited documents that showed officials were pushing for compulsory lifejackets back in 2010, saying “the rule change will contribute to preventing 10 recreational boating fatalities per year”.

And so a new rule was drawn up.

The rule change was black and white, and would have made it compulsory for life jackets to be worn on all boats under 6m, where most drownings occur.

But a week before it was to go before Cabinet an email popped up saying the then-Transport Minister Steven Joyce “has requested that the proposed Cabinet paper be withdrawn from next week’s agenda”.

It went on to say “it looks unlikely that the minister will make any rules requiring the default wearing of PFDs, or lifejackets, at least in the near term”.

He didn’t.

According to Labour Transport spokesman Phil Twyford, this means 10 or 20 lives since then have not been saved.

But the minister responsible for maritime safety doesn’t accept that, saying the analysis was based on old figures.

“In the absence of good evidence that compulsory wearing of lifejackets will make a safety difference, I don’t think that New Zealanders will thank me for over-regulating in this area,” says Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

Fair enough.

Even if wearing the safety gear was compulsory, there could be no guarantee boaties would comply.

What are we going to do about that?

Hire an army of marine cops to enforce the law 24/7?

Alf notes that Robert Guyton – a feller for whom he has a sneaking regard – is among those wailing about what has happened.

This is getting ludicrous now. National’s flip-flopping was at first, ridiculous but it’s fast becoming dangerous. No requirement to wear life jackets?
That’s stupid.

What’s stupid is not wearing the jackets.

Do we really have to regulate to preserve the lives of a few stupid people?

4 Responses to If boaties opt against wearing their life jackets and drown – it’s the Govt’s fault how, exactly?

  1. They should legislate against idiots- but that would upset 90% of the voters…

    • Alf Grumble says:

      But not in Eketahuna North, where all the voters (as their voting record demonstrates) have IQs above average and common sense in buckets.

  2. robertguyton says:

    Alf – I’m a boatie and wear a life jacket when I go out on the water (yachting mainly, but rowing too). I wonder if you believe life jackets should be worn at all? If you do think there’s a need for them in some situations, I wonder what circumstances those might be and where you draw the line – is it boat size, weather conditions, age of the boatie? This recommendation asked for a moving of the line downwards to include smaller craft. Why don’t you see fit to support a move that would, as the professionals said, save a number of lives of New Zealanders?
    Do you think that ‘common sense’ should be the driver for life jacket wearing? If so, you are clearly wrong. A rule needs to be in place for life jackets, as it does for seat belts. Why oppose this proposal?
    Your argument seems to be that people won’t wear them anyway, but the Keith Ingram adds the proviso; “and start affecting some compliance on it,”. Seat belt wearing would fall away to near none, if it weren’t for the fear of a fine. Life jackets are in a similar position, I reckon.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      Alf’s view of seat belts is much the same as it is of life jackets. They save lives. Because Alf is neither suicidal nor a dare devil, he puts on his belt when driving. He does the same with life jackets when boating. People who don’t are suicidal (in which case let them get on with it) or idiots (in which case their demise is good for the human gene pool). Boaties have to equip their craft with life jackets, as Alf understands it, so getting value for money would be another reason for wearing them.

      Eating food keeps people alive too, by the way. We don’t make it compulsory.

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