Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone is calling for the minimum age of jet ski users to be increased. Currently children as young as 12 can skipper their own jet ski in Victoria and New South Wales. They must pass a licence test, and cannot travel at more than 20 knots.
Dr Stone said she has written to the Victorian Minister for Ports Denis Napthine to ask him to reconsider raising the minimum age for jet ski riders, and also to change the inland water slow-down distances to reflect ocean regulations. “When riding on the ocean, jet skiers must slow to 5 knots when 200 metres from the shore, but on rivers, they only have to slow down when 50 metres from the bank,” she said. “The margin for error on rivers, creeks and other inland waterways is much narrower, and there are many more swimmers and children potentially involved in a disaster. Jet skis have become too big and powerful to have kids as skippers. Twelve is too young.” Dr Sharmans’s call for changes comes after a jet ski accident at Lake
Eppalock on Friday. An 11-year-old boy was taken to Bendigo hospital with a fractured ankle after being hit by a jet ski. Lake Eppalock Holiday Park owner Lisa Rose said jet ski accidents were uncommon. But Ms Rose said she would be in favour of the minimum skipper age being increased. “I personally think it’s too easy for people to get boat and jet ski licences,” she said. Echuca Holiday Park manager Lawree Scott said jet skis were very popular with holiday makers on the Murray and she had never heard of any safety issues with their use. But she also welcomed calls to increase the minimum age. “I think 12 is a bit young,” she said. “I think it should be like the car because they are big machines.”