BLAIRGOWRIE boat-owner John Armstrong believes changes to Mornington Peninsula Shire’s boat launch permits are intrusive and restrictive.
The $125 annual fee – as explained on the shire’s website – “entitles the applicant to launch and retrieve boats from the shire’s boat launching facilities and park in the designated car parks.”
The new permit comes in the form of a windscreen sticker that must be attached to the bottom left-hand side of the vehicle’s windscreen.
A letter to boaties from the shire’s environment protection unit said “feedback from customers advising of concerns with the practicality and reliability of the annual boat ramp permits” was behind the changes.
But Mr Armstrong disagrees: “They [the changes] are very restrictive and smack of profiteering by the shire.”
He claimed the former system – a small ticket hanging from the car’s rear view mirror which was interchangeable with other cars – was “running well”.
“The ranger could see the permit ticket at a glance. It didn’t matter what car it was in as all cars take up the same amount of space in the car park.”
Mr Armstrong’s beef is that the new stickers must be attached to specific cars registered to the owner’s home address.
“If I change my vehicle during the year I have to pay another $25, bringing the cost to $150,” he said.
“If someone else wants to use my boat they must pay another fee as the boat is not registered to their car. Yet it’s the boat that is being launched – not the vehicle.
“So, what difference does it make which vehicle is towing it? We are paying to park the trailer and the car it is attached to – not to launch the boat.
“The ramp is not the carpark and no one requires your car’s registration number to park in a public car park – just your money. So, if I launch my boat and then go and park my car and trailer elsewhere – in a free parking zone – I don’t need a permit.
“It is the convenience of not having to go far to retrieve our boats that we pay for.”
The shire’s environment protection acting manager John Rankine said two windscreen stickers were available per permit provided proof of registration of both vehicles is provided.
“If you change your vehicle during the year, you will need to complete an annual boat ramp permit replacement application form,” he said.
“If proof of new registration details are provided the $25 replacement fee will be waived.”
The News understands the actual launching and retrieval of boats is not being charged for – just the parking of the owner’s boat and trailer in the boat ramp car park. If the boatie drove his or her car and trailer away from the car park no fee would be payable.
Mr Armstrong claimed the shire’s demand for personal information to obtain replacement permit stickers was a possible breach of the Privacy Act. “They are obtaining personal information which only the police, VicRoads and the sheriff’s office have a right to,” he said.
“I wish to launch my boat with more than one vehicle so I require a portable permit and not a vehicle-specific permit.”
Annual boat ramp permits are valid for the 12 months (1 November-31 October) at Schnapper Point and Fishermans Beach, Mornington, Marine Drive, Safety Beach, Rye jetty launching ramp, St Aubins Way, Sorrento and Marine Parade, Hastings.