Circular to Queensland Boat Owner
This is a somewhat difficult issue and
it may need some background. However, it may intimately affect
I want to register my 16.1 m ferro cement
ketch in Queensland so I can transit or sail there and possibly
put the vessel on the market at some time.
I duly contacted Maritime Safety Queensland
(msq) to find out about Queensland registration requirements!!!
What a cock up this proved to be.
When I went to fill out the registration
form, I nearly fell over backwards to find that for my vessel,
the annual registration fees recently went up by 120% (ie more
than doubled). These fees are way out of kilter with other states
(WA makes for a good comparison). (for my 16 m boat, WA = $261,
Queensland = $488.30)
.However, the real problems are much worse.
Because my vessel is over 15 m length,
I am compelled to provide two extra very specific insurance covers.
One is for a $250 000 cover for pollution clean up and the second
is for a $10 000 000 cover for wreck removal of my yacht. (I
am a strong supporter for reef/environment protection)
[These two conditions do not apply for
a yacht or vessel of 14.9 m but do apply for one which is 15.1
m. The legislation on the msq site states that it applies for
private craft between 15 and 35 m length. (Apparently a 14.9
m rust bucket with 2000 L of oil and a history of poor behaviour
can run aground, spill oil, then sink on a reef with impunity,
but a well founded new15 m sailing vessel carrying 100 L of fuel
and an experienced crew is seen as a major threat!)]
I tried to obtain specific insurance cover for these two conditions
only to be repeatedly informed by insurance brokers that I could
not get these two as a stand alone policy. I could only get them
as attachments to preexisting comprehensive policies. (I have
spent some months trying to find any insurance broker who would
supply such a policy).
So, it seems that I am compelled to take
out comprehensive insurance to get the two attachments. I find
this a very questionable legal issue. I do not think that msq
should be allowed to inflict this on any boat owner, but it does
seem to be the case. It may not have been their intent, but it
is certainly the reality.
Insurance companies are quick to state
that the addition to the comprehensive policy premium (for the
two Queensland specific extras) is not great or that it is already
included. However, for a visiting racing or cruising vessel (>
15 m) from overseas or interstate, they must adjust their comprehensive
policies (if they have one) or take out a new one.
One overseas insurance company claims that the wreck removal
insurance cover for $10 000 000 to be "quiet absurd"
for a 16 m yacht This same company will provide ferro cement
comprehensive cover with adequate pollution clean up, but will
only offer a maximum of $250 000 cover for wreck removal, but
no more - certainly not for $10 000 000 demanded by msq..
All this applies to transiting vessels
as well. It applies for any invited racing or cruising participant
in events sponsored by your organization. (for vessels over 15
m) (Registration for private vessels under 15 m does have a grace
period of few months, but for vessels over 15 m, this is not
the case as the two extras must be in place even for transiting
However, the bottom line is that the two
extra component cover is compulsory and that the cover cannot
be obtained without getting a comprehensive policy with the two
conditions as components within that policy.
(If you own a 15 m+ NSW registered boat
and have taken out normal comprehensive insurance with a local
underwriter or broker, you cannot assume that the two Queensland
requirements are automatically covered - in case you wanted to
visit Queensland). Further, if you live in Queensland and have
had a policy with your local Queensland broker for some years,
you just cannot assume that you have been upgraded for the necessary
You may envisage a large international
racing yacht being asked to pay a full yearly premium to obtain
the two extra bits, all for a three race program covering a few
weeks. I think you can imagine their response.
Finally, although it may be of little concern
to your organization, I cannot obtain the comprehensive insurance
policy in Australia to attach the two conditions to, as my vessel
is ferro cement!!! (No insurance company will provide the required
cover and msq are aware of this) There are still many ferro boats
sailing Australian and international waters - some well over15
m. Clearly there is a serious problem here for these yacht owners.
However, there is an "exemption"
pathway out of this (provided by msq).
It makes interesting reading and your association
may be somewhat perplexed at it. (check their website)
It requires: -
a) letters from a number of insurance companies
that the two insurance covers cannot be provided.
b) the vessel must undergo an annual survey
to ensure "seaworthiness" (which msq seems unable to
c) there must be a "risk management
plan" (again, msq seems unable to give details for vessels
of specific length)
The exemption must be renewed each 12 months.
It does not absolve the owner of any claims by msq for the two
matters should an incident occur.
If insurance companies will not provide
comprehensive cover for an older wooden vessel, then the owner
is also subject to this nonesense.
Finally, it is not guaranteed that an application
for exemption will be accepted and just to ensure it is totally
useless, it takes a minimum of 12 weeks to be assessed. (due
to legislative processes)
I have sent emails off to both msq and
the ministers office and after much waiting and requesting of
a response, I have been told nothing that is not in the msq website.
They have offered no positive or helpful suggestions to date.
However, there is one issue you may be
able to assist me with. On the matter of the entire insurance
issue, may I quote from the minister's office?
"In 2005, the Queensland Government
undertook public consultation throughout the State with all stakeholders,
including the boating community, about the proposal to introduce
a legislative requirement for ships over 15 metres to have ship
insurance. Amendments to the Transport
Operations (Marine Pollution) Act 1995 were passed in 2006 with
subsequent amendments to the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution)
Regulation 1995 passed in 2007."
What I would like from your organization
is some comment on this quote.
Personally, I find it difficult to accept
that all stakeholders were consulted. I have not heard from anyone
in the entire industry that was consulted
. But I could
be wrong. It was some time ago. Maybe they asked the insurance
1. Was your organization actually consulted
about this insurance matter? If so, when? How?
2. Did your organization have any comment
on the proposed legislation? If so, what?
3. What was the nature of the "ship
insurance " referred to? Was it just the two issues discussed
above or was it undefined, or what?
4. What other means (if any) for providing
the "pollution clean up and wreck removal for all vessels"
cover were considered?
Eg was a model whereby all registered vessels paid (as part of
their annual registration fee) a component to provide insurance
cover for all vessels in case of pollution or wreck removal,
ever considered? (ie a fairer, cheaper and more systematic approach)
5. Was your organization aware that the
legislation implied that comprehensive insurance would now be
essentially mandatory for all private vessels over 15 m?
6. Do you have any other comments on the
legislation or the processes used to assess stakeholder considerations?
One of the msq staff stated that they had
consulted the insurance industry when formulating the regulations
and the insurance issues, but did not say that the boating industry
had been consulted. This conflicts with the above ministerial
office quote. I smell a rat.
I am prepared to make this a public issue,
as it seems to me that the there is a major flaw in the legislation
that should be addressed. I do not accept that this legislation
has been considered or constructed carefully as my own case clearly
demonstrates. The compulsion to take out comprehensive insurance
for all private vessels over 15 m is simply an unsupportable
position and I believe the minister should act to change the
In my case, owning a ferro cement yacht,
I am compelled to apply for the exemption. Let us assume I get
it and my vessel does run aground in a storm. Being a retired
person, there is no way I could afford wreck removal of even
a million dollars. That leaves the taxpayer to pick up the bill.
I bet that appeals to you. You see, the legislation shortcomings
actually prevented me from taking out the needed insurance!
What do you do if you do not want comprehensive
insurance, or can't get it (e.g. for a ferro boat), but you still
want to be insured for pollution clean up and wreck removal?
It seems that it can't be done! msq have
still not been able to address this. They claim that they liaised
with the insurance companies when writing up their insurance
requirements but it seems pretty clear that some deal has been
done or the insurance companies put one over the msq staff.
It also seems that there may be an issue
of "retrospectivity" here. People may have (earlier)
built a vessel over 15 m feeling that insurance was not compulsory
and now find that the rules have changed. This is not fair as
it can affect the actual sale value of the boat.
If the new rules were to only apply to
boats constructed after the new legislation, then it might have
been a bit fairer.
It is also clear that the legislation does
nothing for the boating industry.
Amongst some of the difficulties is the problem the legislation
creates for visiting yachts.
A short term visiting or transiting yacht
has to comply and to do so means they must consult with local
insurance companies. (International companies generally will
not provide such short term policy amendments).
The local companies want an annual comprehensive policy (with
the two attachments) premium to be paid, which is nonsense for
a short term visiting yacht. Some also require a survey. (Jolly
good for surveyors and boat yards, but not boat owners!)
A common response to this is that they
don't make landfall in Queensland, which must be bad news for
the local small ship maintenance/repair and tourism companies.
It is also my contention that legislation
such as this msq issue has come about simply because the boating
industry is so fragmented. There are builders, repairers, brokers,
sailors, racers, cruisers, charter operators, yacht clubs, chandleries
etc. They do not have a common voice against such silly legislation
yet they all eventually pay one way or the other.
An interesting comparison is the local
small trailer runabout owner groups. They tend to be locals who
use concrete ramps to launch and retrieve their boats.
When they want a new ramp or improvements they just turn up in
numbers to the local council meeting and suggest that the mayor
respond to their concerns
and guess what? They get results.
Or a new Mayor.
They don't get steamrolled.
But yachtsmen (both power and sail) have
no such effective voice. Probably because (besides being fragmented),
there are fewer of us and many of our needs and regulations are
based on state government dealings rather than local council
ones. Our associations and clubs have agendas that do not touch
on such issues regularly. Some cruising sailors have no club
affiliations at all !!.
Your organization may be interested enough
to ask questions of your local member or the minister responsible.
The Hon John Mickel MP
Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations.
(Don't expect a speedy response)
Did you notice how simply they just more
than doubled the registration fees?
This is what happens when the boating organizations
However, I would really appreciate it if
your organization could address the 6 questions I posed earlier.
I will do you the courtesy conveying any
outcome of my efforts if your organization can respond to this
I have circulated this email to 13 groups
in Queensland including The Coastal Passage sailors newspaper
You may suggest some others.
Thank you for your time. Oh for the days
when boating was a simple pleasure and your adversary was just
the elements. How times have changed.
PO Box 2890
Ph 0418 610 211
Or preferably by email