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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe


    Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010


    The Queensland Parliament has passed the final stage of the Bligh Government’s toughest swimming pool safety laws, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe announced today.

    Mr Hinchliffe said stage two of the new laws would see mandatory pool safety inspections and compliance certificates required for all privately owned Queensland pools.

    The laws will provide local government pool inspectors with greater powers of entry and broaden pool safety laws to include cover indoor pools and pools associated with hotels, motels, caretaker dwellings, caravan parks and other residential buildings.

    “What we will see is more certified inspectors, with more powers inspecting more privately owned pools,’’ Mr Hinchliffe said.

    “Between 1 January 2004 and 18 May 2010, 35 children under five years of age drowned in residential swimming pools and in 2008/09 eight children drowned in swimming pools.

    “Each year there are approximately 50 non-fatal immersion incidences, which often cause permanent brain damage.

    “These new mandatory pool safety certificates and inspections for Queensland will help save lives and make the state’s pools the safest in the country.

    “Nothing replaces adult supervision of children when they’re near water. But these new laws aim to improve the safety of swimming pool barriers, particularly fences around older pools, to help protect young children.”

    Stage one of the State Government’s tough new pool laws, rolled out on 1 December 2009, included the adoption of the latest pool fencing and CPR signage standards, new provisions to allow temporary pool fencing for short periods of time, mandatory follow-up inspections for new pools, the upgrade of police reporting forms for pool immersion incidents and the development of a Queensland pool register.

    Stage two includes mandatory pool inspections triggered at sale and lease with strong penalties where compliance certificates are not in place within 90 days after the sale is completed. A pool safety inspection certificate will last for two years for a non shared pool (e.g. house) and one year for a shared pool (e.g. units) regardless of how many times it is re-leased or sold in this period.

    Stage two also includes the fencing for all portable pools deeper than 300mm, doors that form part of the pool barrier to be replaced with a fence and the removal of the ability for councils to create local pool laws where state laws apply.

    Mr Hinchliffe said the new laws were the result of the most exacting pool safety review in 20 years.

    “In 2009, the Bligh Government asked an expert committee, including Kidsafe, the Royal Lifesaving Society, Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit and the Local Government Association of Queensland, to review the state’s pool laws,’’ he said.

    “The committee released a consensus report with 23 findings, all of which will be implemented.’’

    The new laws will also see Queensland’s 11 pool safety standards, with different regulations for pools built at different times, replaced with a single uniform approach.

    Pools that fail to comply with the new standard will have five years to adjust – unless the property is sold or leased first. It’s estimated fence upgrades will cost between $430, for those than comply with the existing standard, and a total of $1160 for those that do not meet existing requirements. Mandatory pool safety inspections are expected to cost between $90 and $130.

    “Parents remain the first line of defence – they must always watch their kids around water and teach them how to swim from an early age,’’ Mr Hinchliffe said.

    “Securing a pool should also be a top priority.

    “It’s important to remember defective fences remain a significant factor in the findings of Coronial reports on fatal immersion accidents, with young children commonly shown to have gained access to a fenced pool through a gate or door.

    “The fact is, some people will have to pay to meet the State Government’s tough new pool laws, but I will not apologise for improving pool safety standards.

    “If we can stop even one of those incidents it will be worthwhile.

    “Under the new laws, owners of non-shared pools cannot lease their properties out without a current pool safety certificate in place.

    “For all other pools, where a property is sold without a certificate, a prescribed notice must be given by the seller to the buyer advising that the pool may be non-compliant.

    “The buyers must then ensure their pool is compliant within 90 days of settlement. The maximum penalty for a non-compliant pool after this period is $16 500.

    “The Department of Infrastructure and Planning must also be advised that the property transaction was settled without a certificate in place.”

    Mr Hinchliffe said pool owners would be given time to comply.

    “The new laws will ensure a six-month phase-in period for pools associated with short-term accommodation to obtain a pool safety certificate,’’ he said.

    “All other shared pools will have two years to prepare and plan for upgrading their pool fences to the one standard, and be required to obtain a pool safety certificate.

    “This will ensure that bodies corporate have sufficient time to plan and budget for any work they need to undertake to meet the new standard.’’

    Under the new laws portable pools and spas of a depth of 300mm or over will be required to be fenced, bringing the state legislation into line with national standards.

    The amendments to the Act also include the mandatory inspection of pools by local government following immersion incidents.

    “To make sure pool owners, the real estate and legal sectors are aware of the new obligations, the Department of Infrastructure and Planning is developing a targeted education and awareness campaign, which will be rolled out in the coming months,’’ Mr Hinchliffe said.

    "As with the introduction of stage one, pool safety roadshows will be held throughout Queensland to inform pool owners and other stakeholders on how to comply with these tough new laws.

    “These new regulations are aimed at saving lives and making our pools the safest in Australia.

    “I would like to thank the many stakeholders involved in the State Government’s extensive consultation including Hannah’s Foundation, the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia and the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Queensland.’’

    The new regulations will be reviewed within seven years. Roadshow details will be released in coming weeks.

    Media contact: 0417 815 223

    Background: The swimming pool safety review committee consisted of: Australian Institute of Building Surveyors; Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian; Dawn Spinks, independent child drowning prevention expert; Department of Community Safety (Queensland Ambulance Service); Department of Infrastructure and Planning (Chair); Housing Industry Association; Kidsafe Australia; Local Government Association of Queensland; Queensland Health; Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit; Queensland Master Builders Association; Royal Life Saving Society Australia; Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Queensland.