House debates

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Bills

Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2018; Second Reading

11:02 am

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | Hansard source

The Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 makes important machinery changes to the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 and the Navigation Act 2012. These acts establish key parts of Australia's regulatory framework for maritime safety and protection of the marine environment. Primarily, the bill will insert a definition of the term 'regulations' into each act, to clarify that this term includes legislative instruments known as marine orders. This clarification is necessary to ensure the regulatory framework operates as intended. Provisions of each act rely on vessel owners and individual seafarers operating or working on vessels complying with requirements of regulations, such as requirements to hold valid safety or pollution certificates. The bill provides important legal clarity and certainty that existing obligations and requirements for individual seafarers and vessel owners include requirements set out in marine orders.

In practical terms, the machinery changes made by the bill will have no impact on maritime industries operating under these acts. Individual seafarers and vessel owners will continue to comply with the same requirements set out under the existing acts, regulations and marine orders in the same manner as today and continue to be subject to the existing compliance framework. Use of marine orders is a longstanding practice to deal with detailed technical and operational requirements and processes and to give effect to international obligations and standards. Australia's maritime industries are familiar with this practice. Marine orders are used to set out potentially complex standards and requirements in the clearest and simplest manner possible, to help the maritime industry to understand and comply with their obligations.

Use of marine orders also ensures these requirements are set out in a consistent and familiar way which is easily and freely accessible in one place on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's website. They are also registered and freely available on the Federal Register of Legislation. Marine orders are legislative instruments for the purpose of the Legislation Act 2003, which means that they are subject to crucial parliamentary scrutiny and disallowance. Importantly, the explanatory memoranda for the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill 2012 and Navigation Bill 2012 make clear that policymakers intended marine orders, rather than the acts or regulations, to continue to be used to set out these operational and technical matters and requirements, in line with longstanding regulatory practice. This bill gives effect to that intent.

The amendments made by this bill will ensure Australia's regulatory framework for maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment continues to function as intended—efficiently, effectively and consistent with international law. This framework is vital to ensure the safe operation of vessels in Australia's waters and to ensure seafarers and passengers aboard these vessels return home safely.

This framework is also vital for protecting Australia's pristine coastal and marine environments, including our internationally recognised areas of outstanding national significance, such as the Great Barrier Reef. I would like to thank honourable members for their constructive contributions to this debate. I commend the bill to the House.

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