Boat own­ers face big rise in moor­ing fees

The West Australian - - NEWS - Daniel Mercer

WA boat­ies are fac­ing fee in­creases of thou­sands of dol­lars a year as the Mc­Gowan Gov­ern­ment tries to claw back the cost of run­ning State-owned boat har­bours.

In a let­ter to reg­is­tered boat own­ers, the Depart­ment of Trans­port has blamed ris­ing costs and the need for a “user-pays” sys­tem to re­veal it will raise moor­ing fees by 11.5 per cent from next month.

There will be more pain in com­ing years, with the depart­ment flag­ging in­creases of up to 10 per cent “plus CPI” from 2019-20 un­til fees reached lev­els.

“It will take seven years for the ma­jor­ity of users to com­plete the tran­si­tion,” a spokes­woman for the depart­ment said.

The de­ci­sion will af­fect about 2000 boat own­ers whose ves­sels are penned in 30 fa­cil­i­ties around WA, in­clud­ing Fre­man­tle Fish­ing Boat Har­bour and at Hil­larys.

It is un­der­stood pri­vate­ly­owned fa­cil­i­ties such as Perth’s yacht clubs will not be af­fected.

One boat owner said the changes would add al­most $800 a year to their fees — an im­post likely to grow into costre­flec­tive thou­sands of dol­lars if fore­cast in­creases came into force.

Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment, in­creas­ing fees was nec­es­sary be­cause boat own­ers paid less than half of what it cost the State to pro­vide the ser­vices.

“The es­ca­lat­ing costs in­volved with main­tain­ing these fa­cil­i­ties will see users pay­ing more as the cur­rent cost model is no longer sus­tain­able in the cur­rent eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment,” a spokes­woman said.

“Main­tain­ing boat har­bours and fa­cil­i­ties for pen hold­ers through­out the State is in­creas­ingly ex­pen­sive and the cur­rent rev­enue is not pro­vid­ing the funds that are needed.”

She said the depart­ment would col­lect $11.3 mil­lion in fees and charges next fi­nan­cial year, of which about $1 mil­lion would come from the lat­est in­creases.

Ge­off Ellis, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Boat­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, said the Gov­ern­ment was go­ing after boat own­ers to prop up its Bud­get be­cause they were a “soft tar­get”.

Mr Ellis said the in­creases came at a bad time with the econ­omy sub­dued and many boat own­ers were “not mil­lion­aires — they’re mums and dads”.

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