Jet skiers put on notice after potentially deadly game of ‘chicken’ with authorities

Two Boating Safety Officers were left fearing for their lives on Saturday night after an incident in which a jet skier accelerated directly at their patrol boat after refusing their request to stop.

Roads and Maritime Services Executive Director Maritime Angus Mitchell said the incident is now under investigation with multiple charges relating to several offences being considered. The jet ski involved has also been seized under powers which came into effect in 2016 to improve safety for all boaters.

“Operating dangerously on NSW waterways is illegal and won’t be tolerated. Roads and Maritime carries out daily patrols of the Georges River, including acting on tip offs and following up on CCTV footage from cameras along the shore,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Our officers are charged with keeping the boating community safe. To see them being threatened is alarming and a cause for concern.”

“Jet skis were banned for use on Sydney Harbour and tributaries of the Lane Cove and Parramatta rivers in 2001. Jet skis are still permitted to be used – by those with personal watercraft licences - on the Georges River. We don’t want the behaviour of an unruly few to impact on the majority who do the right thing.

“However, if a minority of users continue to breach maritime safety legislation and fail to get the message about safe and respectful behaviour, then their actions jeopardise the ongoing enjoyment of all users.”

Mr Mitchell said jet skiers are being put on notice leading in to summer after a weekend which saw two Boating Safety Officers threatened by a jet ski operator.

The incident at Revesby on the Georges River was the second on the waterway that day involving jet skis,” he said.

“In an earlier incident in the same area of the river, two people were injured, one seriously, in a collision with a jet ski and a ski boat.”

Since the introduction of Section 97A offences (Assault/ Threaten Authorised Officer/ Use Abusive Language to an Authorised Officer in the Exercise of their functions) of the Marine Safety Act, Roads and Maritime has started several prosecutions in court.

A 44 year old male who threatened to punch a Boating Safety Officer in the face was fined a total of $1800 and placed on a 12 month Section 9 Good Behaviour Bond.

In a separate incident, a 37 year old male is alleged to have threatened to shoot at a BSO. The man will appear in court in January next year. He was also charged by NSW Police with intimidation.

“These results show that the courts are taking matters very seriously and will impose custodial sentences for these types of offences to protect the rights and safety of Boating Safety Officers,” Mr Mitchell said.

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