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Thursday, 29 March 2001
Page: 26013

Mrs GALLUS (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs) (1:08 PM) —On behalf of the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, I thank honourable members for their contribution to this debate on the Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2000. The safety of shipping is an issue recognised and given priority by all governments of Australia. Our current national safety regime contained in the Navigation Act 1912 and regulations made under the act reflects the division of responsibilities under our federal system. While it is a workable system, it can be improved. The changed jurisdictional responsibilities contained in this bill have been sought by the states and the Northern Territory. The proposed legislation will revise the division of the responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the states and the Northern Territory for the safety regulation of Australian trading ships and foreign flagged vessels. The Commonwealth's jurisdiction will be broadly aligned with international obligations for vessel safety. Vessels which, because of their size or scope of operation, should be under state or Northern Territory maritime safety administration will remain so.

The proposed regime, which is supported by the shipping industry, will also ensure that regulation is not an impediment to the business of operating a vessel and will protect Australia's marine environment through the application of appropriate rules. Even though this bill reflects a long and comprehensive process review and has been endorsed by governments of the states and the Northern Territory through both the Australian Transport Council and the Workplace Relations Ministers Council, I note the opposition's intention to refer it to a Senate legislation committee. This bill is a positive example of the federal model working to enhance the safety regulation of shipping in Australia. I commend the bill to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.