Jun 27, 2012

Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 – Second Reading Speech

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (09:02):  I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

In the past month the government has introduced into this parliament a suite of bills that represents the most significant overhaul of Australia’s maritime industry since its establishment in 1912.

We have introduced the National Law Bill to establish a single national marine safety regulator in Australia and the Navigation Bill that modernises the 100-year-old Navigation Act.

I also had the great pleasure to introduce the government’s Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy legislative reforms.

These reforms became law last Thursday and from 1 July commence the vital work of revitalising Australia’s shipping industry.

This government has also amassed a substantial body of work in protecting Australia’s precious marine environment.

In this parliament alone, we have increased penalties for the discharge of oil or oil residues by ships in Australian waters from $220,000 to $11 million; banned the carriage or use of heavy grade oils on ships in the Antarctic area, legislated practices for ship-to-ship transfers of oil carried as cargo and implemented incremental changes to the maximum sulphur level of marine fuel oil.

This bill continues the government’s commitment to our marine environments.

The Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 amends the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 to strengthen Australia’s comprehensive marine pollution prevention regime.

As a government, it is our duty to ensure that our laws for prevention of marine pollution are adequate, up to date and consistent with international law.

The International Maritime Organisation has adopted a number of conventions which are intended to reduce pollution by ships.

The most important of these conventions is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships which is generally referred to as MARPOL.

MARPOL has six technical annexes which deal with different aspects of marine pollution.

These are pollution by oil, noxious liquid substances in bulk, harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form, sewage, garbage and air pollution.

About 150 countries have adopted at least some of these annexes.

Australia has adopted all six.

In July 2011 the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation adopted amendments to Annex IV, V and VI of MARPOL.

The main purpose of this bill is to implement those amendments in Australia.

The amendments to MARPOL, which will enter into force internationally on 1 January 2013, will:

  • restrict the discharge of sewage from passenger ships in special areas;
  • revise requirements relating to the disposal of garbage at sea;
  • make mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships of 400 gross tonnage and above built on or after 1 January 2013 for international trade, and
  • make mandatory the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan from that date for all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above that are engaged in international trade.

This bill will also clarify the application of roll-back provisions in Australia’s territorial sea to clarify application of offences committed outside the three-nautical-mile limit.

In addition, the bill will repeal the Stevedoring Levy (Imposition) Act 1998 and the Stevedoring Levy (Collection) Act 1998 which relate to the former stevedoring levy.

Payment of the stevedoring levy in accordance with the two acts ceased in May 2006 and the two acts are no longer of any effect.

Since coming to power in 2007 this government has significantly improved the protection of Australia’s marine environment.

This bill continues that work, and I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.