Those Kiwis really can teach us a thing or two. And I’m not just talking about on the rugby field.

How much easier must it be to only have to deal with – and pay for – two tiers of government? No state or territory jurisdictions for NZ boaties to worry about; with the different and often frustratingly conflicting regulations around licencing, registration, safety equipment, communications, search and rescue etc that we Aussies have to deal with every day.

And how easy it must be to travel from one end of the country to the other without having to stop and work out, in any given locality or situation, who needs to be wearing a PFD and in what conditions. Or when you need to display your over-width trailer permit; and which (if any) of your licences you may need to produce on demand.

And now, in what many in the Land of the Long White Cloud are saying may be the death-throes of the long-serving NZ Labour government, the Minister of Transport, Annette King, said this about the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill currently before the Parliament:

“The Bill allows [us] to allocate fuel excise revenue received from pleasure boat users to activities such as maritime search and rescue, boating safety education and maritime safety services.

“For too long, organisations like the …Coastguard… have had to rely heavily on donations to do their work. This move is good news for recreational boaties and the organisations that provide a safety service to them.

“Now a source of funding is available specifically to meet the cost of well-founded boating safety measures. The recreational boating community will see a benefit from the excise it pays, and I think this addresses what has been an inequitable situation.”

I only hope that Ms King and Co can stick around long enough to see the Bill become law.

At $1.69 a litre for unleaded at my local service station, and over $2.00 a litre anywhere on the water near home, I have long been critical of George Bush, the Saudi Royal Family, OPEC and the oil companies. Let’s face it: we all know there is not much golf being played at the annual oil company executives’ golf day.

But a bit of research into this, prompted by the welcome news from NZ, led me to identify a whole new class of pirates on the high seas.

In Australia, the Commonwealth-imposed fuel excise levied on petroleum-based products nets something in the order of $13 billion per annum – some 7.5 per cent of total Commonwealth revenue. The federal cash register is ringing to the tune of another $5 or $6 billion in GST revenue from fuel sales. At current prices, more than 50 cents for every litre you pump goes off to Canberra.

The reality is that the vast majority of fuel sold is consumed by cars and trucks; yet it is estimated that only around $2 billion of the $13 billion generated by the fuel excise every year goes back into funding road safety and infrastructure projects. The remainder finds its way into consolidated revenue.

And the return for revenue from marine fuel sales is even more paltry. At face value, not one single dollar goes into boating safety, new boat ramps, car parks or marinas.

I am sure Treasury would know what percentage of the fuel sold in Australia ends up being consumed on boats and ships. I don’t – but let’s assume for the sake of the exercise that it is the almost ridiculously low figure of just half of one per cent, which equates to around $65 million per annum.

Anyone out there reckon they could come up with $65 million worth of “well-founded boating safety measures” following the lead of our ‘cuzies’ across the ditch?

Click on, find the email address of your local Federal MP and Senators, and ask them when we will see the revenue generated from the sale of fuel used in boats redirected specifically to marine safety and infrastructure. Email me at to pass on any interesting replies.



Mark Bradley
Publisher and CEO
Club Marine Limited