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Tuesday, 8 November 1983
Page: 2369


Mr CHYNOWETH —I direct the attention of the Minister for Transport to the threat posed to Australia's coastline by pollution from shipping, especially oil spills . In the light of the Government's announced policy to promote, ratify and apply international maritime conventions, what action has it taken since coming to office?


Mr PETER MORRIS —I acknowledge the honourable member's concern about the protection of the environment, particularly having in mind that the Flinders electorate is bordered on one side by Western Port Bay, on the other by Port Phillip Bay and has on those shores the oil installation at Crib Point and other associated industrial installations. It is timely that the honourable member should raise this question because only yesterday the Secretary to the Department of Transport, Mr Taylor, lodged with the International Maritime Organisation in London six instruments of accession, four to international conventions and two to associated protocols. The deposit of those instruments follows extensive consultation between the Federal Government, each of the State governments and the Northern Territory Government. It indicates the very high priority accorded by this Government to the ratification of international transport conventions and bringing Australia up to date and into line with the most widely accepted world standards.

I bring to the House's attention a cable that I received this morning from the Secretary to the Department relating to the presentation of these instruments in which he states that the Secretary- General of the International Maritime Organisation-IMO-Mr C. D. Srivastava, expressed genuine pleasure at the receipt- -


Mr Lusher —Are you reading from something?


Mr MORRIS —Would the honourable member like a copy of the document? I know that it would help him. If the honourable member will listen I will read it slowly so that he will understand it better.


Mr Lusher —Why don't you make a statement?


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Hume will cease interjecting. The Minister will complete his answer.


Mr Lusher —How long has this been going on?


Mr SPEAKER —Order! When the honourable member for Hume is warned not to interject, will he please take some notice?


Mr PETER MORRIS —The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation, Mr C. D. Srivastava, expressed genuine pleasure at receipt of the instruments and our support for IMO's works. The cable continued:

He also applauded the efforts Australia had made to become party to the conventions and said the receipt of four conventions in one day was a record.

He said that he would propose to draw Australia's actions to the attention of the assembly of the IMO.

I refer to the four conventions involved. The Intervention Convention will allow Australia to take appropriate action if faced with a grave and imminent threat of pollution or of a marine casualty, which will include salvaging, sinking, destroying or removing cargo from the offending vessels. The international convention relating to civil liability will ensure that adequate compensation is available to those who suffered damage caused by pollution, resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from ships. The search and rescue convention is the third one, and the fourth one is the convention on standards of training certification on watch-keeping for seafarers. It relates to the competency of seamen. Two other conventions will come into operation later this year.


Mr SPEAKER —I ask the Minister to round off his answer. I believe those conventions were mentioned earlier.


Mr PETER MORRIS —This shows the delay accorded these very important conventions by the previous Government. It is our determination to bring Australia into line to protect our marine environment and to protect the shores of Australia from pollution.