Election promises by both major parties to abolish boat ramp fees and return all licensing and registration revenue to the industry, has been welcomed by the Boating Industry Association of Victoria.
Annual permits can cost up to $315 at Altona and Newport boat ramps, and up to $202 at Werribee South. Daily tickets cost up to $25 a day.
Association chief executive Steve Walker said Victoria had been “the last dinosaur” in charging boat ramp fees.
“In every other state … you don’t pay to park and launch your boat and park your car and trailer there,” he said.
“They encourage that because they know how good it is for the community for people to be out boating and they know how good it is for the economy to drive activity and visitation and tourism and all those things, whereas there’s too many barriers in Victoria.”
The BIA, as part of its Ramp Rage campaign, is calling for a “super facility” in the west.
“Whether that’s in the Werribee South precinct or Altona or somewhere in between, we know that there’s great demand, there’s population growth and lots of reasons why it needs to be addressed.”
Hobsons Bay councillor Sandra Wilson said it was good news for boaters but important not to forget that fees existed because of “considerable lack of funding for ramp infrastructure, cleaning and maintenance from successive state governments over a long period of time”.
“We hope the intent of this is to not just make access free but to also address the growing costs of ramp maintenance, utilities, cleaning, dredging and new infrastructure that ramp fees still only partially cover.
“We look forward to seeing the detail and how this commitment will help cater for the growth that free access will create and how it will help our ratepayers who today also subsidise the running of these facilities for local boaters and those who come from outside Hobsons Bay.”
Ports Minister Luke Donnellan said the government would compensate councils for lost revenue when the fees were abolished.
“We’ll abolish parking and launch fees at ramps and make sure that every cent of licensing and registration fees is spent on boating safety and facilities.
“We’ll establish the Better Boating Fund to get to work immediately on urgent boat ramp upgrades.”
Opposition ports spokesman David Hodgett said the government had ripped off the boating and fishing community for four years by not returning all boating revenue to the community.