Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Special Recreational Vessels Bill 2019; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Special Recreational Vessels Bill is for an act to allow foreign special recreational vessels to apply for a special recreational vessel temporary licence to operate on the Australian coast if they choose to opt in to the regulatory regime. This will allow these vessels to be offered for hire or charter.
The special recreational vessel industry has advised it is expecting a large number of these vessels to be in the Pacific over the next 18 months for the Tokyo Olympics and the Americas Cup in Auckland.
The industry wants certainty that they can sail to Australia and be able to offer charters from this summer onwards.
Broader economic benefits are expected from the operation of these vessels in Australian waters. Australian businesses from florists and purveyors of fine foods to local tourist guides will have opportunities to supply these vessels with goods and services—not to mention what passengers might spend onshore in shops, cafes and restaurants.
Much of this activity will be in regional areas. From Tasmania to Far North Queensland, there will be many tourist destinations that would welcome visits from these vessels.
There are some 5,000 of this type of vessel around the world. Many have wanted to come to Australia, but the disincentives have been too great in the past. Our neighbours in the Pacific, including New Zealand—
Our neighbours in the Pacific, including New Zealand, have welcomed them, and that is business lost to Australia.
The bill should make coming to Australia more attractive for these vessels and bring the associated economic benefits. This is a first step in growing opportunities for more Australian businesses from visits by these vessels.
The provisions of the bill
Currently special recreational vessels cannot apply for a temporary licence under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.
Recreational vessels are not covered by the act. This prevents them from offering charters.
Temporary licences under the coastal trading act require a minimum of five voyages and a voyage is defined from a port to a different port. This does not 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 establishes a means by which special recreational vessels can opt into the coastal trading regulatory scheme established by the coastal trading act.
The owner, charterer, master or agent of a vessel will be able to apply for and obtain a special recreational vessel temporary licence for 12 months by providing information on the number of voyages, dates, loading and unloading port, the number of passengers and other information about the vessel.
An application fee will apply, but once a licence is granted the vessel can be offered for hire or charter.
The Australian government is committed to seizing hold of the economic potential of visits from these vessels for Australia, in particular for the regions.
I have spoken to people in the industry. They tell me the opportunities are great. But they need certainty that they can come to Australia and offer charters. This bill will give them that certainty. With that, I commend the bill to the House.