The Labour-led Government has refused to progress legislation to make the water a safer place for our young people, National’s spokesperson for Children Alfred Ngaro says.
“I asked Leader of the House Chris Hipkins to adopt my Member’s Bill as Government legislation. This legislation would make lifejackets compulsory for kids under the age of 15 on vessels six metres or less. New Zealand is an island nation, we are surrounded by water and it’s important our children are kept safe.
“Too many people are drowning in New Zealand. My Bill would ensure that young people are safer in the water.
“Drowning is the third-highest cause of unintentional death in New Zealand. It’s something that absolutely must be addressed but the Government is refusing to.
“I have the support of Water Safety New Zealand, Maritime New Zealand and Coastguard New Zealand. They all recommend the default wearing of life jackets on small recreational vessels. This is a measure that could immediately reduce the number of drownings.
“My Bill only relates to children under the age of 15 because, under Maritime Regulations, the minimum age required for skippering a boat is 15.
“The timing for this is right, as we’re about to head into the summer season. Instead, Chris Hipkins has chosen not to prioritise the safety of our young people. I want to stop the tragedies that Kiwi families face every summer through unnecessary drowning.
“Last year 105 people drowned in New Zealand, 92 of those deaths were preventable. Last year’s toll included nine children under 15.
“I want to see all New Zealand children kept safe and this Bill is an important step towards protecting them when they’re on the water. I can’t understand why Labour doesn’t think the same.”