Mixed views on proposed lifejacket law

Stuff.co 6 September 2013
Plans to make lifejackets compulsory for kids could one day apply to everyone.

Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga has introduced a member’s bill to Parliament that would make wearing a lifejacket compulsory for children up to 15 on boats 6 metres in length and under.

The proposal only relates to youngsters up to 15 but Mr Lotu-Iiga say he expects a select committee to examine whether it should be extended to all ages.

There are on average 17 recreational boating deaths a year.

“Even though lifejacket wearing rates have increased markedly in recent years, many boat users still do not wear lifejackets regularly,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“As a consequence fatalities that could have been avoided on our waters continue to occur. Analysis of boating accidents shows that capsizes and other events are often unexpected and boat users have little or no opportunity to put on their lifejackets.

“I have seen this first-hand in my own electorate of Maungakiekie where a father and his 7-year-old son tragically drowned in the Manukau Harbour in May of last year.

“Their dinghy capsized and sadly they were not wearing lifejackets.”