Oct 26, 2010

A cleaner, greener shipping industry

A cleaner, greener shipping industry

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

October 26 2010

The National Parliament has taken another important step towards cleaner skies and healthier air quality, approving new laws which reduce the sulphur content in the fuel oil used by ships.

Importantly, the successful passage of the Protection of the Sea Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 brings our nation’s ports and shipping industry into line with internationally agreed standards.

The new, tougher standards mandated by this legislation will over time reduce sulphur oxide emissions, the pollutant responsible for acid rain as well as health problems within the community such as premature mortality, cardio-pulmonary disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory disease.

From 1 January 2012 the sulphur content in fuel oil will be capped at 3.5 per cent, down from the current 4.5 per cent. Subject to a review to be conducted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the legislation also opens the way for this cap to be further reduced to just 0.5 per cent from 1 January 2020.

Merchant vessels emit as much sulphur oxide as all the world’s cars, trucks and buses combined.

As an island continent, Australia is particularly reliant on the global maritime industry, with virtually all our exports and imports needing to be transported by sea. In fact, we have the 5th largest shipping task in the world.

With nearly 4,000 ships navigating our waters every year, many near environmental icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, Australia has a strong interest in a cleaner, greener maritime industry.

The legislation also delivers ‘responder immunity’ provisions to protect people and organisations who provide assistance following an oil spill and whose actions inadvertently result in further damage.

Since coming to office Federal Labor has put maritime policy back on the national agenda. We’ve made sure shipping companies are held financially accountable for oil spills, undertaken a parliamentary inquiry into coastal shipping, initiated a total re-write of the Navigation Act and instituted reforms which will deliver a single national regulator for all commercial vessels.