A reader on pool fences

A reader writes in:

Nick Smith’s and MBIE’s press releases regarding the Pool Fencing changes have been widely published as circulated and, understandably, cast the changes in a positive light.  But a closer reading shows much of the proposed revision to be shallower than some of the wading that are to be exempted.  In fact there is very little relief for the average pool owner who has been long-suffering under the vagaries of council enforcement of the old law.

True, they are getting rid of some of the silliest aspects of the old law which brought derision such as applicability to inflatable wading pools (so long as they are shallow), but by their own admission there is little relief in store for the average punter with an in-ground pool or spa and some significant reason for concern behind some of the claim for added ‘clarity’ (code for less flexible) and cost savings (by councils).  Much of the statistics behind the justification are shallow and difficult to audit, controlled as they are by Water Safe NZ, one of the strong supporters of the bill.  Much of the change is driven WaterSafe Auckland, Water Safety NZ, and Auckland Council enforcement staff, all paid (at least in part) by the public to promote wider and more complete water safety precautions.

One of the most sinister aspects of the change is the granting of wide ranging authority to enter private property for inspections.  This is pretty well established practice for the purpose of commercial and public building WOF’s but is new, and the thin edge of the wedge, when applied to people’s homes.

Also included are infringement notices, instructions to fix, and fines levied by pool inspectors for failure to comply.  The inspectors are not judges and there are often disagreements over interpretation and what is reasonable.  The fencing enforcement team have already earned the reputation as the Pool Stasi.  Watch this space.

There is much wrong with the existing pool fencing regime which starts reasonably enough by wanting to protect children and works its way through layers of questionable logic to the conclusion that this can only be done by sequestering every pool in the country in case a caregiver’s attention is distracted while a child is in the vicinity.

The low hanging benefits of pool fencing have already been realised.  This attempt at reducing the nation’s child drowning rate from 3/Yr. to 2.4/Yr. (really) is unlikely to be a painless and cost effective step forward.

So sounds like still a long way to go.

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