In brief – Proposed new swimming pool laws aimed at reducing infant deaths

The state government seems poised to crack down on swimming pool owners, with the Minister for Local Government hoping that new laws governing domestic swimming pools will be introduced in the next sitting session, starting mid-October 2012. Increased compliance is aimed squarely at reducing the number of children drowning in backyard pools.

Swimming pool register to be established

Under laws proposed in the Swimming Pools Act 1992 Review - Discussion Paper available on the Department of Local Government website:

  • a state-wide online registry will be established
  • the estimated 340,000 pools in NSW will have to be registered within 12 months
  • councils may be called on to inspect all pools that are not registered
  • non-complying owners will face fines of $2,200
  • pool owners may face compulsory CPR training
  • fencing exemptions may be removed (for example, exemptions relating to waterfront properties, pools on small blocks, pools on properties larger than two hectares and spas) – but it may be possible to defer the work until owners renovate or sell

Safety checklists, compliance statements and increased fines

As part of registration, tests will be required. The tests will cost about $150 and require completion of a safety checklist and preparation of a compliance statement. Any non-compliance could result in $5,000 fines - increased from the current $1,100.

Mandatory inspections and issuing of compliance certificates

The government is also considering requiring each property with a swimming pool to have a valid compliance certificate issued before the property is leased or sold.

The compliance certificate would be valid for a period of two years, even if the property is sold or leased again in the interim.