Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Special Recreational Vessels Bill 2019; Second Reading
Thank you to all of those members who have contributed to the debate on the Special Recreational Vessels Bill 2019. The federal government is committed to growing the Australian economy, and this bill will contribute to that goal by opening up a new maritime market. The bill will allow special recreational vessels to offer charters on the Australian coast—something that the current system does not allow.
These vessels have been excluded in the past because of the way that the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012, the coastal trading act, works. Whilst special recreational vessels visit our Pacific neighbours, Australia is missing out because of red tape. Temporary licences under the coastal trading act require a minimum of five voyages, and a voyage is defined as 'from a port to a different port'. This doesn't support the special recreational vessel operating model—often a single voyage to take advantage of an opportunity to offer the vessel for charter, and likely to be to and from the same port.
This bill changes that. It will enable these vessels to apply for a special recreational vessel temporary licence under the coastal trading act. For those who own or charter a special recreational vessel and wish to apply for a special recreational vessel temporary licence, they can now offer a single-voyage charter that takes a round trip or a number of different voyages to different ports over 12 months. However, this does not change the need for licence holders to comply with all other requirements of the coastal trading act and other relevant legislation, including the requirement to pay part B wages.
In recognition that special recreational vessels are just that—recreational—the bill imposes the condition on all special recreational vessel temporary licences that the vessel must not carry cargo for profit on voyages authorised by the licence. Allowing special recreational vessels to charter in Australia will open up trade and tourism opportunities all around the coast, particularly, as the member for Dawson just noted, regional areas on the Far North Queensland coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Port Douglas, amongst others, are poised to benefit from increased tourism brought by these vessels. As the member for Forde just noted, a number of these vessels are expected to be in the Pacific over the next 18 months for the Tokyo Olympics and the America's Cup in Auckland. This bill will pave the way for them to come to Australia.
The government is committed to changes more broadly in coastal trading. The department is out consulting with stakeholders now. This bill is one part of a broader approach to making coastal shipping and cruising a viable and important part of the domestic economy. I want to stress, however, that protections for Australian vessels will be maintained. Our government is pleased with the participation of shipping and cruise industry stakeholders in the first phase of consultation and, with the number of organisations and individuals who've taken the time to think about solutions to making coastal trade a more efficient transport choice, we thank them all for their submissions.
We'll shortly be bringing everyone together to develop these ideas and find opportunities for the maritime industry more broadly, including the special recreational vessel industry. There is much opportunity for businesses—particularly those in the regions—for encouraging special recreational vessels to come to Australia. These vessels will attract passengers from all over the world to sail in our waters. This bill lets us take advantage of this exciting and growing industry, and I commend the bill to the House.