Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Pool-fencing laws suit bureaucracy, not children's water safety

By Kerre McIvor

Fencing backyard swimming pools won't save neighbourhood kids from streams or rivers in the area. Photo / Getty Images
Fencing backyard swimming pools won't save neighbourhood kids from streams or rivers in the area. Photo / Getty Images

Maurice Williamson announced last week that there will be changes to pool-safety laws which, he says, will make things simpler and safer for all.

He's going to have to do a better job selling this concept than he did with the 10-year drivers' licences, because a lot of people see the fencing laws as irrational.

I'm all for making pools as safe as possible. It's bad enough finding a hedgehog floating in the pool so I can't imagine the horror of finding a child drowned.

So I'm happy to put up a fence to protect neighbourhood kids, and myself.

But it seems absurd that the council will come round and tick off a checklist of costly things to do to make your pool fence secure when there is an unfenced stream or a river running through the back of your property, or an open pond 10m up the road.

What about the fountain at Mission Bay? Imagine how absurd it would be if the fountain was fenced and the waters of the bay remained untamed.

There are numerous stories of bureaucracy trumping common sense when it comes to pool-fencing rules.

One council inspector came around year after year to check on the fencing of a spa pool that had been filled in with dirt and turned into a garden planter, and another came to check on the fencing surrounding a spa pool that wasn't there because the new owners had decided against installing one.

If the Government can trust parents to look after their kids in the great outdoors with unfenced bodies of water on every corner, why can't it trust them to look after their kids at home?

- Herald on Sunday

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