21 May 2010

Tough new pool laws for Queensland

Media Release

Minister for Infrastructure and Planning

The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe


A critical stage of Queensland's tough new pool safety legislation has been passed in Parliament, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe has announced.

Mr Hinchliffe said changes under the new Building and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2010 would increase pool inspection powers, create a State-wide swimming pool register and allow for the implementation of a new swimming pool safety inspector licensing system.

"Last year eight children under the age of four drowned in Queensland pools - more than any other state in Australia - and statistics indicate around 50 children will present to emergency departments this year following a life-threatening immersion,'' Mr Hinchliffe said.

"Another alarming statistic is that almost 60 per cent of children under the age of five, who lost their lives through drowning, did so in backyard swimming pools.

"The Bligh Government is simply not prepared to risk the safety of young children around pools and this new legislation sets in place another piece of the framework for the toughest pool safety regime in Australia.

"Of course nothing replaces adult supervision of children near the water, but these new laws aim to drastically reduce the risk of young children entering pools on their own.''

Mr Hinchliffe said the changes would see licensed swimming pool safety inspectors able to conduct pool safety inspections of swimming pools controlled by State law, and the roll out of a new class of licensed pool safety inspectors.

"The introduction of a new class of pool inspectors, and the provision of training from well respected organisations such as the Swimming Pool and Spa Association or the Royal Life Saving Society, will ensure pool safety inspectors receive high quality and relevant training,'' Mr Hinchliffe said.

"In coming months we expect to see the first training courses rolled out and these training courses will cover knowledge of the pool safety barrier code which sets out the technical requirements for pool fences and barriers.

"They will also include practical experience such as working with fences and barriers, as well as knowledge of pool safety legislation and regulations, and the role of the Pool Safety Council.

"Guidelines to specify the required content of these courses will soon be made available online.''

Mr Hinchliffe said it was anticipated pool inspection fees would cost between $90 and $130.

Under the amendments, owners of regulated pools will be required to ensure their pools are registered.

An offence will apply to owners who fail to do so.

"It is anticipated that the ability of pool safety inspectors to assist, encourage and check compliance among pool owners will be greatly enhanced by the pool register," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"The register will also be accessible to local governments, which can use the register for their compliance programs."

Pool safety amendments to the

Building Act 1975 include:

• Implementation of a new swimming pool safety inspector licensing system• Creation of a new class of licensed pool safety inspectors• Empowering licensed swimming pool safety inspectors to conduct pool safety inspections of swimming pools controlled by State law• Establishment of a Pool Safety Council to oversee the administration of the new licensing system Amendments also include changes to the 'ban the banners' provisions.

"We have listened to the concerns of industry which is still recovering from the global financial crisis and some amendments have been made,'' Mr Hinchliffe said.

"The ban the banners changes amend the legislation in a way which not only facilitates certainty and confidence in the property industry, but also preserves the original legislation's core objective of creating viable and sustainable Queensland communities," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"The ban the banners provisions are designed to increase homeowners' freedom and choice with a range of green option such as solar panels and affordability features like opting to build a smaller home.

"This initiative is aimed at assisting Queenslanders in reducing their carbon footprint by limiting the ability of developers and bodies corporate to impose instruments that promote unsustainable development.

"The ban the banners legislation will improve housing affordability through greater construction freedom.

"By limiting the ability of developers and bodies corporate to restrict sustainable building options, owners may build smaller, more affordable homes with significantly less energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and overall running costs.

"This legislation allows more freedom at the design and construction stage, improving comfort and reducing economic and environmental costs over the life of the home."

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