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PLB Fibs, Furphies and Downright Lies!

Posted by on 24th May 2019

I have been selling Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s) into New Zealand from Australia for over seven years now.

The Fibs include many brands, (HexID coded for Australia) and also KTi Safety Alert which is made in Australia – the latter who make NZ coded ones.

But whether you buy an Australian-coded PLB which you then register with AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) in Canberra or a NZ coded one which is registered with RCC (Rescue Coordination Centre) in Wellington, it will work anywhere in the world - there is no such NZ ONLY PLB!

Just because you live in New Zealand and could activate your beacon there, does not mean that you are at any disadvantage carrying an Australian or New Zealand-coded PLB registered in either country.

There have been a range of fibs, furphies and yes, blatant lies told about this issue from, I presume, self interested commercial enterprises in New Zealand who want to “protect their patch” by selling you their NZ-coded PLB’s at a much higher price than the ones I can send you for well under $NZ400 from Australia.

Let me put some of the more outrageous claims to bed.

Claim: “You have to have an Australian-coded PLB re-coded to use here in New Zealand.”

My Answer: No you don’t.

Claim: “The signal will take longer to reach emergency rescue services if it’s not NZ coded.”

My Answer: No it won’t. The length of time taken for the signal from your PLB to reach emergency services depends on how soon a satellite passes over your location and can confirm your GPS coordinates. This can take anything from a few minutes to over an hour. Do not expect a response to be instant. It would be a wonderful coincidence if a satellite is passing overhead at the same moment you set off your beacon. Also having a clear overhead surrounding will provide a better transmission environment.

Claim: “You will be fined $1000 if you don’t properly register your beacon every two years.”

My Answer: Well that was a new one to me so I contacted RCC who reportedly advised a rather upset customer that he would be fined if he set off a beacon which wasn’t currently registered. And yes, theoretically they could but no one has ever been fined.

Claim: “You should be supporting New Zealand businesses by buying locally.”

My Answer: In an ideal world, yes you could – but maybe not if you are paying an extra $200 to keep yourself safer and lining the pockets of the local commercial interests who have been profiting excessively for many years.

As I have said in a blog post I wrote some time ago, I have a passion for safety – whether on land or water – but I am not so altruistic that I sell safety equipment for no profit. I do make money from my sales which support a very pleasant life-style in rural Tasmania but I’m just not that greedy.

Some in New Zealand have tried to stop me selling PLB’s into New Zealand with some very dodgy tactics – like trying to pressure my suppliers into telling me that I could not sell into NZ and trying to get the law changed so that all goods entering NZ are subject to customs duty and even trying to ban the importation of PLBs. Currently, items under $NZ400 do not attract duty, however if that changes, applying the additional fees and GST will still make these items affordable: quote "to the working man" end quote by a client.

Please take any outrageous claims of this nature with a grain of salt or call me - happy to talk all day long about this...

Safe adventuring. Peter