Senate debates

Thursday, 17 October 2019


Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Air Pollution) Bill 2019, Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 2) Bill 2019; Second Reading

5:53 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—



Australia is the fifth largest user of shipping services in the world. Ten per cent of the world's sea trade passes through Australian ports, with international shipping carrying over 99 per cent of Australia's imports and exports by volume. A critical component of Australia's domestic freight task, around 15 per cent, is also carried by coastal shipping.

While shipping is the lifeblood of the global economy, transporting around 90 per cent of world trade, it also contributes around 13 per cent of global airborne sulphur oxide emissions. These emissions are known to have significant environmental and human health impacts, including acid rain, increased rates of lung cancer and respiratory illnesses.

As growth prospects for maritime trade continue to be strong, sulphur oxide pollution from ships will continue to increase if no action is taken to restrict these emissions. The cumulative impacts of air pollution, even away from the coasts and shipping routes, add up in economic costs.

To address these impacts, the global shipping standards body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has been progressively tightening sulphur oxide emission standards for ships since 2005.

In 2016, the IMO confirmed that from 1 January 2020, the sulphur content in marine fuel oil must not exceed 0.50 per cent by weight, an 85 per cent reduction from the current maximum allowable 3.50 per cent. This latest IMO global sulphur standard is prescribed in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

Ship operators have several options to comply with the new IMO sulphur regulations, including using low sulphur marine fuel oil, diesel or alternative fuel types with low to zero sulphur, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), biofuels and hydrogen, as well as using fully electric vessels. Ships can also continue to use high sulphur fuel oil provided they are fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system, known a 'scrubber', to reduce sulphur in their emissions to below the 0.50 per cent limit.

In October 2018, the IMO agreed to further prohibit the carriage of high sulphur fuel for propulsion purposes on board a ship from 1 March 2020 (carriage ban). This is to ensure a level-playing field by discouraging ships from burning high sulphur fuel on the high seas, away from a country's jurisdictional boundaries.

The carriage ban comes into effect two months after the 1 January 2020 low sulphur commencement date to allow ships sufficient time to dispose of any remnant high sulphur fuel that they may be carrying for use.

As a signatory to MARPOL, Australia has already legislated the 0.50 per cent sulphur limit from 1 January 2020 in the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Sea) Act 1983 (POTS Act).

However, the POTS Act requires further amendment to legislate the subsequent IMO ruling on the high sulphur fuel carriage ban.

This Bill amends the POTS Act primarily to:

      These amendments are necessary to implement Australia's continued international obligations under MARPOL and to ensure Australia's regulatory framework for our maritime industries is aligned with globally agreed standards. Australia's major trading partners have implemented, or are also working to implement, the sulphur cap.

      The high sulphur fuel carriage ban amendment will not impose any additional financial impact on shipping companies or increase freight costs, as ships are already prohibited in the POTS Act from burning non-compliant fuel from 1 January 2020.

      The IMO recognises that there may be transitional issues to the global implementation of the sulphur cap and has worked with Member States, as well as the shipping industry and fuel oil suppliers, to develop guidelines on the consistent implementation of the 0.50 per cent sulphur limit to help ships meet the new requirement. These guidelines include standardised reporting of the non-availability of compliant fuel to help port state control authorities to take appropriate action to mitigate non-compliance issues.

      The Bill also seeks to make other minor administrative amendments to the POTS Act to:

          The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has consulted on the implementation of the sulphur cap with Australia's maritime industry, fuel oil suppliers and port industries for over 18 months. The industry is supportive of Australia's consistent application of the new sulphur standard to ensure a global level playing field.

          The Australian Government is committed to protecting our coastal communities from ship pollution. Implementing the new stringent global mandate on reducing sulphur emissions from ships in Australian waters will ensure Australians benefit from the improved health and environmental outcomes of cleaner air.

          The carriage ban on high sulphur fuel oil is important for the global enforcement of the sulphur cap to ensure it is fairly applied across international shipping.

          These sulphur-related amendments to the POTS Act will ensure Australia has up-to-date legislation to implement our obligations under MARPOL.


          This Bill contains measures which will assist older Australians, help farmers and tourism operators, improve the efficiency of the Australian Energy Regulator, ensure that consumer privacy remains central to the Consumer Data Right regime and protect retirement savings from erosion.

          Schedule 1 to the Bill extends the concessional tax treatment of genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments to those under Age Pension qualifying age.

          A key feature of the treatment of these payments is the tax-free component. However, currently a person can only receive the tax-free component if they are aged below 65 years at the time of their termination or retirement from their employer.

          The Government is making this change to address the situation where some older Australians who, due to their age, cannot access either the Age Pension or the tax-free component of genuine redundancy or early retirement scheme payments.

          These amendments will assist older Australians who receive a genuine redundancy or early retirement scheme payment but are not yet able to receive the Age Pension.

          The measure applies to genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments made to individuals on or after 1 July 2019.

          Schedule 2 to the Bill provides further luxury car tax relief to those farmers and tourism operators who purchase heavy-duty passenger vehicles as part of their business. The proportion of luxury car tax that can be refunded will be increased, and the maximum amount of the refund will also be increased to $10,000. These changes will apply to eligible vehicles acquired on or after 1 July 2019.

          Schedule 3 to the Bill amends the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to expand the Board of the Australian Energy Regulator from three to five members and ensure the expanded Board can operate efficiently.

          This measure recognises the scope and complexity of the AER's work have changed significantly over recent years, through the growing number of energy market participants and rules to be enforced, and through its key roles in energy policies such as the Default Market Offer.

          Amendments are also made to ensure the validity of future appointments under the Australian Energy Market Agreement.

          This measure implements the model agreed by the COAG Energy Council on 26 October 2018. The amendments were agreed by the COAG Energy Council on 23 August 2019.

          Schedule 4 to the Bill amends the Consumer Data Right to ensure that consumer privacy remains central to the regime.

          It requires that the ACCC activate the power already afforded to them in the original Act to write rules allowing consumers to request that Accredited Data Recipients delete Consumer Data Right data relating to them.

          By legislating that the ACCC must include rules relating to the deletion of personal data, we are encouraging longer lasting confidence in the system and helping to ensure that respect for consumer's wishes for how their data is used is a central element of the Consumer Data Right.

          Schedule 5 to the Bill improves the lost and unclaimed superannuation regime to enable the Commissioner of Tax to calculate and pay interest on ATO held super they proactively reunite with members' active accounts. This is another step in the Government's agenda to ensure that peoples' hard-earned retirement savings are protected from erosion.

          Full details of the measures are contained in the Explanatory Memorandum.

          Debate adjourned.

          Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.


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