Paddling pools may need fencing

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 11:39 28/11/2013

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New regulations requiring the fencing off of what many would consider to be paddling pools, will save lives, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says.

The minister today announced new laws that would see permanent small pools containing water to a depth of 30 centimetres needing a secure fence around them, but portable shallow pools would be exempt.

Williamson said reports that parents would be penalised for having an unfenced paddling pool were inaccurate.

"What we're saying is if there's a pool that you're going to permanently leave up, then that needs to be fenced," he said

Williamson said amendments to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act were expected to save the lives of an extra six children every 10 years.

Before the Act was introduced in 1987, there up to 100 drownings every decade, and current figures were now at about 30 every 10 years.

The rule would also only apply to new pool owners, because existing pool owners were already complying with the more stringent codes that were in place previously.

He said council workers would only be inspecting if complaints were made.

"Changes will also remove inconsistent and cumbersome rules," Williamson said.

"This will be a relief for pool owners who have long been frustrated trying to satisfy the absolute letter of the law as opposed to focusing on the intent of trying to save lives."

Changes to the act will also require councils to inspect swimming pools at least every five years, and require pool retailers to inform buyers of their safety obligations.

Spa owners were also given a reprieve from having a fence around their tub - as long as the spa had a lockable lid, it was fine.

Williamson said it would cost $350 million if spa owners across the country were forced to all build fences around their spas.

The changes also removed requirements for garden ponds and stormwater ponds to need fencing.

Williamson said the changes struck a balance between child safety and compliance costs.

Parents who failed to properly fence pools deeper than 30cm could be liable for a fine of up to $500.

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