Queensland’s reef-tourism operators could be forced to have at least two head-counting systems to ensure tourists aren’t left at sea.
A parliamentary review of the dive and snorkelling industry has proposed new laws to improve safety and avoid a repeat of the horrifying case of US divers Tom and Eileen Lonergan.
Defective head-counting systems were blamed for the disappearance of the couple, who were left behind during a dive off Port Douglas, north of Cairns, in January 1998.
Advertisement: Story continues below It took two days for them to be reported missing and it was presumed they drowned or were taken by sharks.
Safety laws have since been strengthened, but not enough to prevent a disturbingly similar incident in June last year when US tourist Ian Cole was stranded near Cairns and had to swim to another boat for assistance.
Mr Dick said the state government was determined to reduce such incidents to nil.
“Queensland’s diving industry is one of the safest in the world and these proposed changes will ensure we continue to demonstrate best practice,” he said.
The review recommended a requirement for operators to have at least two head-counting systems.
Mandatory medical examinations for entry-level dive course candidates who are overweight, over 45 or suffer high-risk medical conditions were also recommended.
The industry has until March 31 to provide feedback on the proposed laws.