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Industry and boaters urged to get onboard 'Fish, Boat, Vote'

by Jeni Bone on 22 Aug 2013
I Fish I Boat I Vote BIAA Nik Parker www.biaa.com.au
The BIAA recently took part in the ToobigToIgnore roadshow, traveling NSW with the largest billboard in the southern hemisphere, conducting sessions to point out the importance of the two million small businesses in Australia, and the value of the boating industry as part of the small business community.

Launched in April, the multi-million dollar campaign has been titled 'Small Business – Too Big to Ignore', and features press, radio, television and online advertising, as well as a series of events in metropolitan and regional Australia in the lead up to the September federal election, supported by the website toobigtoignore.org.au

The BIAA got onboard with its 'I Boat and I Vote' strategy, promoting the policy platform for BIAA which is recognition of the boating and marine industry. In collaboration with AFTA and the recreational fishing community, the tagline was broadened to 'I Fish, I Boat & I Vote'.

'It’s really a rallying call,' explains BIAA General Manager, Nik Parker.

'We are asking boaters and fishers to think about it: who looks after your ability to boat and fish? There’s no real nationally coordinated body, so the BIAA has stepped up to say we’ll tackle the issues connected with the ability to go boating. We are urging boaties to be aware. Collectively we are a massive group that can have some influence.'


The campaign, Parker emphasizes, is apolitical, and has no connection with any parties or groups. 'We are simply raising the profile of the issues, making sure we all appreciate how significant the sector is and its impact on everyday life in Australia. Then we are putting forward the issues and policy ideas: education, boating safety, industry development and support, access to waterways, product compliance.'

The BIAA has estimated that such initiatives would cost around $90m, 'which is around $20 per boater when you base that on estimates that there are five million of us.'

As Parker explains: 'This really does affect all Australians, when you consider one in five of us boats, that’s somebody in every family. It’s not an exclusive pastime. And 85% of boats, probably more, are under 4m.'

This is about promoting and protecting the boating lifestyle. 'We want to continue to highlight that boating means being out and about, in the community, relaxing, taking it easy. Tied in with that is an industry that can support this lifestyle with access, safety, education.'

And while Parker says the boating industry does have supporters on both sides of the house, so far contact with politicians has not yielded any commitment.

'We are looking for government to support and fund these initiatives. Feedback from politicians so far has been disappointing. We are working to get support for the future, get people in to boating, and focus on training in the industry to guarantee manufacturing and jobs for generations to come.'

'I Fish, I Boat & I Vote' will be prominent at the AFTA show at the Gold Coast Convention Centre next week, and the Brisbane Boat Show 6-9 September, coinciding with the election.

You can email Nik Parker on info@biaa.com.au for background on the campaign, policy documents and collateral you can use to lobby your local politicians.

More at www.fishboatvote.com.au and Facebook/IfishIboatIvote


Here’s an excerpt from the BIAA statement during the Toobigtoignore roadshow, delivered by Roy Privett, BIA General Manager, speaking on behalf of the BIAA.

The Australian boating industry is very pleased to join and support the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s national campaign: we are most definitely an industry that fits the bill of ‘too big to ignore’.

Our national industry comprises over 2500 businesses, more than 75% of which are small enterprises. Collectively we employ over 27,000 people and generate more than $8 bn in turnover, with almost $1 bn of this being exported.

The boating industry is represented in every state and territory and has a high profile in regional communities. There’s a boating business in every town along our great coastline and on the rivers and lakes.

But the real numbers that we need to communicate are about the boating community. Without a healthy and successful boating industry, this community, this lifestyle wouldn’t exist. And that community is a significant one.

Every year, over 5 million Aussies go boating. In everything from tinnies and sports fishing cruisers, ski and performance boats, sail boats and river cruisers.


There are close to 1 million registered boats, and maybe twice as many more sailing dinghies, kayaks and other watercraft. Recreational Boating is part of our culture, our way of life; it is simply part of being an outdoor loving Aussie.

As an industry we design, build, sell, and service all the products that deliver recreational boating within the reach of every Australian to enjoy. Our industry gives them the opportunity to take to the water in so many different ways and has been doing this for over 100 years.

And we continue to manufacture in Australia, sourcing a skilled and experienced workforce from our own shores, while embracing the opportunities of expanding into new markets across the seas to our close neighbours in Asia.

But we have of course battled the same problems of any industry over the last few years. The combination of the high value of the Australian dollar, fierce competition from lost-cost economies and over-stocked markets in the US and Europe has delivered a bitter blow to our local manufacturers and dealers.

We’ve also battled home-grown problems, largely associated with government policy concerning access to waterways. Marine parks and fishing and boating lock-outs are a major concern and have not helped our already cautious consumers.

Looking to the future and to the next Federal Government, the boating industry has established a policy strategy of 4 core pillars which we believe set the direction for a secure and prosperous future.

These covering boating safety and education; access and infrastructure; regulatory reform; and industry and boater community support. Our policy pillars fit well with the concept of the Chamber’s ‘big 4 you can’t ignore’.

Our requirements are outlined in our policy: 'I boat and I vote' which we’re presenting as part of the wider fishing and boating sector combined campaign 'I fish, I boat and I vote'. I hope you can take 5 minutes to look at fishboatvote.com.au and to join us on Facebook.

We’re not looking for major changes, we’re simply looking for recognition of the industry and boating community as being worthy of a level of support that any sector engaging nearly one in six of the population should enjoy.

The boating industry is proud of its history and the role it plays in providing a healthy, family-friendly, outdoor, Aussie lifestyle. We look to Government to consider the impact of policy decisions and to work with the industry to secure boating for the future.

See you on the water!

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