House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018


Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2018; Second Reading

11:28 am

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

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Australia is heavily reliant on shipping and maritime trade. International shipping carries 99 per cent of our imports and exports by weight.

Australia's economy also relies on our domestic maritime industries, including for tourism, for transport, and for fishing and aquaculture.

As a government, it is our duty to ensure Australia's regulatory framework for maritime safety and protection of the marine environment functions efficiently, effectively and is 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 natural significant, such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Today I present the Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.

The bill makes important, machinery changes to the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 and Navigation Act 2012.

These are acts that establish key parts of Australia's regulatory framework for maritime safety and protection of the marine environment.

Primarily, the bill will insert a definition for 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.

Marine Orders deal with detailed technical and operational requirements and processes and are used to give effect to international obligations and standards.

Use of Marine Orders is a longstanding and accepted regulatory practice with which the shipping industry is familiar.

Marine Orders can already be made under each act for almost any matter that can be provided for by regulations. Limited exceptions include matters which affect the coverage, rather than the detail, of the regulatory framework, such as the definition of a 'domestic commercial vessel'.

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 that 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 they are subject to crucial parliamentary scrutiny and disallowance.

The ongoing use of Marine Orders remains appropriate and embeds agility in the legislative framework, ensuring legislation keeps up to date with technical and operational advances in maritime safety and environmental protection.

Importantly, the explanatory memoranda for the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill 2012 and the 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.

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.

Legally, however, the bill is necessary to provide important clarity and certainty about the existing obligations for individual seafarers and vessel owners regulated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority under the acts.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.