The O’Farrell Government has been embarrassed into shelving its flagship scheme to improve swimming pool safety for another 12 months – issuing a new deadline for councils to start inspecting backyard swimming pools as late as the end of April 2015.
The Government was forced into the one-year deadline extension following a flood of complaints from councils that they had not been given sufficient resources to inspect tens of thousands of swimming pools across NSW and certify their safety compliance.
Shadow Minister for Local Government Sophie Cotsis said the Premier and Minister Don Page had shown gross incompetence and needed to be held to account.
“This scheme has been a fiasco from start to finish,” Ms Cotsis said.
“The troubled rollout began with the Government imposing an onerous and unclear set of obligations on swimming pool owners.
“People were left unclear whether they needed to register their swimming pool – and whether the new rules covered spas, fountains, inflatable toy pools and ponds.
“Then the website crashed and the phone line went unanswered, leaving thousands of people frustrated and facing the threat of fines.
“The Government was forced to extend the enrolment deadline to November 19, 2013.
“The Government has completely failed to resource councils to undertake the compliance and enforcement needed to make mandatory inspections work – and as a result these don’t have to occur for another 12 months.
“Tragically, in the meantime, there is a real risk of young children accessing backyard pools that are not properly fenced and are unsafe.”
The O’Farrell Liberal Government has long trumpeted its plans to improve backyard pool safety.
- “Government delivers on backyard pool safety”, Media Release by Don Page, October 23, 2012.
However, earlier this week, it quietly snuck its postponement of the scheme onto the bottom of the Department of Local Government website.
- “Mandatory inspections by councils of tourist, visitor and multi-occupancy developments, and pools associated with property sale and lease to commence by no later than 29 April 2015.” Source: http://www.dlg.nsw.gov.au/dlg/dlghome/PublicTopicsIndex.asp?mi=0&ml=10&id=17
“Barry O’Farrell and Don Page have led tens of thousands of swimming pool owners up the garden path and to bury this latest information on an obscure government webpage is an insult,” Ms Cotsis said.
“Labor strongly supported this initiative in the interests of improving backyard pool safety.
“We just never believed the Government could be so incompetent.”
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