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Eric Yeoman

Public Liability Insurance
« on: Oct 31, 2018, 11:55 pm »
In East Coast Queensland , Oz, the National Parks, which are run by individual states not the national government, go figure,  :o , so, in Queensland the Q. Nat. Parks have areas called Maritime Parks. Most of them are open to general use, boating, skiing, jet skis, fishing. Some areas are restricted as special purpose, fish breeding habitat. no fishing. transit only. Other than boat operators licence, fishing permit no special permissions are required,,,UNLESS, it involves a hovercraft!

Operation of a hovercraft in A QNPMP requires a permit as h/craft are classed as managed vessels. As small/light h/craft operators our machines are lumped in with the large commercial ACV's & we are required to have $10,000,000. public liability insurance before a permit will be issued. No other recreation craft has to have this! Indeed most small boats 10 - 18 feet, for example have zero insurance at all. The downside, additional downside, is that the permit takes, on average 6 months to come through. Boat rego. , trailer rego. & insurances ticking away. This permit must be renewed annually.
The QNPks have various studies in their possession, (FOI ),  that prove that modern ACVs pose little threat to even the most sensitive areas yet they cherry pick these reports & only present the negative portions (info from the 1970's & 80's ) to the Enviroment Minister. She has been informed of this but has chosen to side with the NP's.
Anyway,, the only insurance company that would provide insurance cover informed the QHC that they were cancelling cover as of YESTERDAY
« Last Edit: Nov 01, 2018, 12:05 am by Eric Yeoman »

Eric Yeoman

Re: Public Liability Insurance
« Reply #1 on: Nov 01, 2018, 12:01 am »
Part 2
 So does  anyone have any idea, over there if an insurance company would help us? Would, do you think, the club insurance people help?
 FYI,, no other states impose these stupid laws on us!
 Rant over.......E

Eric Yeoman

Re: Public Liability Insurance
« Reply #2 on: Nov 01, 2018, 12:22 am »

     Offline James King 
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         QLD club battle for access to marine parks  Reply #1 on: Oct 25, 2018, 10:20 pm      
Hovercraft in QLD marine parks are legislated as managed vessels. That requires a permit that can take months to get and requires Liability Insurance of $20 million.

Zoning plan legislation exists for 3 marine parks:

GBRMP (Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks) 4 zones from Gladstone to Cairns
Great Sandy Marine Park - Rainbow Beach to Burnett River (Bundaberg)
Moreton Bay Marine Park

The Great Sandy Marine Park is due for amendment later this year (soon) and Moreton Bay next year. QLD government collates all responses from the Marine Park stakeholders and allows everyone have their say. We are pushing support from every angle to get recreational hovercraft excluded from the zoning plan requirements. We ask the relevant parties to add the word 'commercial' to 'hovercraft' under the definitions of the zoning plans. This will exclude us from the requirements. 

We need the support of the AHF, the QRBC, the LNP (opposition) etc. We have petitioned our local MP's and the Environment Minister and Ombudsman. The Minister is backing her colleagues at the DES and is choosing to keep us as managed vessels regardless of our size, weight and operating frequency. We are required to submit a new application every 12 months that can take 6 months to receive. Our conditions are exactly the same as a commercial hovercraft.

The DES has admitted their error by comparing us to commercial hovercraft but nothing has changed. We need a letter from the AHF to send to the relevant stakeholders and DES as our first step. We need to convey the impact (club morale, anxiety etc), particularly now that we have trouble with insurance and can't legally access the marine parks.   

I have obtained the 2 class assessments (Moreton, GSMP) via FOI and it shows recreational hovercraft to have impacts that is sustainable to even the most sensitive of areas that the Minister has a problem with. This information is being withheld from the Minister and shows their agenda to keep hovercraft out of marine parks. We plan to take this public via the media in the near future.

      Last Edit: Oct 25, 2018, 10:27 pm by James King    Report to moderator    Logged     

John Robertson

Re: Public Liability Insurance
« Reply #3 on: Nov 01, 2018, 10:03 am »
Looks like the usual over reach issue ::) .  For what its' worth, I'd look closely at the decision-making process in this case - who is responsible for enacting the regulations, and, more importantly, what they are legally required to consider before doing so.  If you can find evidence that they have failed in their duty then it's usually possible to challenge their actions (not sure how it works in Oz but there is normally some way to challenge government or agencies - an ombudsman or the courts?).

The statement "withheld from the minister" is nonsense - there is absolutely nothing to prevent anyone providing a minister directly with  information AND making sure that they fully understand the context (i.e. if the minister disregards the information then further action (specify!) will be taken).

In general, you need to make as much trouble for elected officials as you can - that's the only way to get their attention (and, get them to take action to remove the "nuisance").

And ... forget about the insurance "problem" - unless I'm misunderstanding, that is not the issue here - it's just the consequence of a defective regulation (the core of the issue).  Don't play their game - play by your own rules (based on a clear understanding of the process)!

Last comment - check discrimination law text in Oz - if you are lucky it may include "groups" or "bodies"?  A governemtn body actring illegally is an killer blow!

Ian Brooks

Re: Public Liability Insurance
« Reply #4 on: Nov 01, 2018, 8:48 pm »
I echo John's thoughts. We spent ages playing the game by the rules set by the authorities, assuming that reason would prevail in the end. We learnt that reason will not prevail because the other side have a predetermined position.

The only way forward is to be more than a nuisance. You need to make it harder for them to say no than to say yes. Aggressively pursue the maximum complaints and/appeals that are available. Have every member write to their MP, requesting that every MP writes to the Minister for an explanation why your members are being descriminated against.

The turning point for us was when we spent time researching common law. It turned out that the authorities concerned did not have the power to prevent navigation by any vessels, and that hovercraft are defined as vessels. Suddenly we were no longer wading through a treacle of environmental legislation, rather we were attacking the authority for acting beyond their powers. They were still supported by the government department concerned, they had a cosy relationship and the department had rubber stamped the byelaw even though it was "ultra vires" (beyond their powers). It wasn't until we pushed the complaint right to the top that someone finally got cold feet. Then we received a phone call from a senior civil servant who offered to intervene and the issue was quietly resolved so as to avoid embarrassing the guilty. Not good, really, because the mechanism that should have prevented the issue arising has clearly been subverted byban overly cosy relationship between the authorities, which was designed to descriminate against parties (us!) who were arbitrarily deemed undesirable.

Have you persued the common law angle? If understand correctly all English law was applied to Australia about 1850, and since the law we used is old, there may be some commonality left that might be useful. In the UK, The right to navigate in tidal waters cannot be removed except by specific act of parliament or by powers which expressly state that purpose. The authority we dealt with did not have such power, they were merely able to regulate navigation not prevent it, but had extended Thier powers simply because no-one had challenged them. It would be cool to find that this branch of common law had not been repealed in Aus and that you could find another tool to attack the authorities with. In the UK, interfering with navigation is a criminal offence - "public nuisance" - there's nothing better to hit an over zealous civil servant with than the threat of criminal proceedings! I wonder if public niusance exists in Australia? It would have done in 1850, I suspect, because it's an ancient common law offence.

Another angle is descrimination and fair process. Are they making arbitrary decisions? It sounds like they may be. But this weaker than public nuisance.

One more thing to investigate: in the UK you cannot attach conditions to a right such that it becomes impossible to excercise that right. For example, a harbour authority could not require a person to have insurance that could not be obtained, because that has the same effect as preventing the excercise of the right of navigation. It sounds to m a bit like the parks authorities are using the insurance angle to prevent you navigating - I wouldn't be surprised to find they had leant on the insurance company to withdraw cover. If that is the case, then why do they not outright ban hovercraft? Suggests to me they know they do not have the power to do so? May be worth persuading this angle? FOI for communications between the park authority and the insurers? It's clear that we were fighting such collusion in the end.

Best of luck!

Ian Brooks
Gloucester, UK