I contribute to debate on the Rock Fishing Safety Amendment Bill 2021. From the outset, I thank the member for Barwon for his interest in rock fishing and, most importantly, his interest in safety. However, as a member representing an electorate that experiences some of the largest numbers of deaths from rock fishing in this State, I cannot support this particular bill. I have seen firsthand the devastation of those in the recovery process and our emergency service workers, not to mention the tragic outcome on families after having experienced a death of one of their loved ones—a death that I believe could be absolutely preventable.
It has been known in this House that I am in big favour of mandating life jackets across this State. I have said it in this House on many occasions. Whilst the member for Barwon's bill is well intentioned, it is not my belief that it goes far enough, and we have to get it right. Sadly, this year alone we saw three deaths off Catherine Hill Bay from the rock platform. While those people were not fishing, they were on an equally dangerous platform. Whilst I will continue to prosecute mandating life jackets in this place, it is also my strong view that we need digital signage. We should be using technology to advise people of the dangers of the environment that they are entering and to tell them they should not be entering the platform if those dangers are occurring at that particular time. In fact, just this week I met with some people to speak to them specifically about the type of signage that we need to alert people to the dangers of rock fishing.
I am a great supporter of rock fishing safety. As members would know, I am a surf lifesaver. I represent those members at Catherine Hill Bay, Lakes and Caves Beach that have to go out for recovery—not rescue, unfortunately; recovery. It is traumatic for those lifesavers, and I know firsthand what that is like. I am not saying say that I do not believe that the member for Barwon has exactly the same intention. He would go to every length, just like the shadow Minister. We have a genuine belief that we need to keep our rock platforms safe. We see too many deaths, unfortunately, on this coast. I will continue to work with the member for Barwon and the shadow Minister so that we deliver safe outcomes for our rock fishing platforms and prevent what I believe are senseless deaths that need not occur.
We do not want to stop rock fishing. I love rock fishing myself; I have been rock fishing off Snapper Point since I was this high, which is exactly where those deaths occur. I was out recently, and I am sharing photos. In Lake Macquarie and Central Coast council areas, there are mandated local government areas. Eight people were rock fishing; only two had a life jacket on. Even though it is not mandated, we do not have the enforcement and compliance in place. I get that too because that requires a large resource of labour. I understand. That is why we should mandate life jackets across the State, just like we did seatbelts. That is my view. I hold that view very strongly as a surf lifesaver and as a local member who experiences these deaths too often in my electorate.
But, unfortunately, I do not think this bill goes far enough. I am eager to work with the member for Barwon, the shadow Minister and anyone else who wants to be involved so that we can achieve a positive outcome and keep rock fishing safe.