NSW's 492,000 paying boat license holders generated almost $20 million in 2014.

Boat license fees - where does the money go?

Australia is famously the land of red tape, with rules for many facets of life and boating firmly entrenched in this category. Unlike several other western countries with long traditions of boating — the UK and New Zealand, for example — licensing boaters is standard practice across all Australian states, apart from those lucky few in the Northern Territory. Our most populous state, NSW has about 492,000 boating licence payers that generated $19.7 million in 2014.

A significant part of the money goes to administration and what’s left is shared with various organisations for safety, navigation marks and educational services. There are many worthy causes to support including environmental agencies and marine rescue but try explaining this to the average tinnie owner, who has to stand in line at the RTA to renew their licence every year or so. Attempts to lessen the pain by spreading the bills were knocked-back, such as when NSW proposed a 10-year license as part of a 2015 shake-up.

It makes me wonder how they manage in the UK, a country where the coastline is much wilder and tidal. Here the rescue services are operated by charities and there’s no such red tape as boat licences.


Enough bang for our bucks?

If we’re to suffer boat licences we should at least get a better bang for our bucks. The obvious way to do this is to put more of this cash into where it’s needed the most — on the water.

For a start, refurbishing the damaged ramps around Sydney alone would encourage more users.

NSW should also clear the waters of those bloody mooring minders — barnacle encrusted clunkers that should be recycled into fibreglass matting for ramps.