3 Sep 2013

Campaign wants all children wearing lifejackets onboard

10:10 am on 3 September 2013

A National MP is launching a campaign today to make it compulsory for children to wear lifejackets on boats.

The Maungakiekie MP, Sam Lotu-Iiga, says he is sick of people, especially children, needlessly dying in boating accidents because they haven't been wearing a lifejacket.

Mr Lotu-Iiga wants it to be compulsory for under 15-year-olds to wear lifejackets on non-commercial smaller pleasure boats, canoes and dinghies.

Currently, the law only requires the carrying of lifejackets.

Mr Lotu-Iiga says on average 17 people drown after falling out of their boats each year and two-thirds of those deaths could have been avoided if lifejackets had been worn.

"Most New Zealanders wouldn't argue with the fact that those children that are onboard a craft six-metres and under where there is a high should be wearing life jackets," he said.

"Traditionally, there's been resistance from, generally, older, male boaties. It's a change in culture that we're seeking."

Mr Lotu-Iiga says the campaign has the support of the National Party caucus and he is now working towards a law or state regulation change.

The president of the Recreational Fishing Council, Geoff Rowling, says the design of lifejackets would need a complete overhaul. He says most of those on the market are uncomfortable to wear, and expensive.

But Mr Lotu-Iiga says any law change wouldn't add any cost because boats already have to carry lifejackets.