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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7024

Mr ROBERT (Fadden) (17:19): I rise to comment on the bills being debated in cognate, including the Navigation Bill 2012 and consequential amendments to marine safety legislation. It will not surprise many people to realise that the Navigation Act is 100 years old. It has been amended many times and as a result apparently is a mix of archaic and modern concepts. It must be a cracking read.

At the National Shipping Industry Conference 2009 the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport announced the government's intention to rewrite the act—a fitting task, one would think. Many provisions of the act were taken from the British Merchant Shipping Act 1894 which included laws which have been around since the 18th century. One can only surmise what some of those laws were. Apparently they included making it an offence to take a lunatic to sea without telling the master, something the Labor Party should perhaps have been informed about previously. But it is good to know they are focusing on the big issues of ensuring that lunatics are no longer on the high seas.

The Navigation Act 1912 is Australia's primary piece of legislation for regulating ship and seafarer safety, shipboard aspects of protection of the marine environment and employment conditions for Australian seafarers. The bill gives effect to Australia's port control responsibilities and implements a range of international conventions covering matters such as safety of life at sea, training and certification of seafarers, prevention of collisions at sea, watertight integrity and reserve buoyancy of ships and regulations to determine gross and net tonnage of ships. If the legislation were simply about the restriction of lunatics it may well be fitting in itself.

The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill introduces a new national law for maritime safety that will commence on 1 January 2013 and establishes a national maritime regulator to provide for the consistent regulation of domestic commercial shipping. This is part of a suite of reforms agreed by the Council of Australian Governments in 2009. They are intended to adopt nationally consistent laws in maritime and rail safety and for the heavy vehicle industry. This will apparently reduce the regulatory burden on a business and will consolidate the existing 23 regulators into three national regulators. Frankly, the reduction of regulators by itself is always a good move. These reforms are expected to provide productivity benefits of some one-and-a-bit million dollars per year, or $30 million over 20 years. As a general rule the merging of regulators into national regulators—the merging of many into few—makes sense. Nationally consistent laws in the maritime, rail and heavy vehicle industries also makes sense. There is scope in terms of maritime safety, maritime law and navigation law for other areas to be widened as well. The electorate of Fadden, which I represent, is of course home to the Gold Coast Marine Precinct, that has some of the nation's great luxury boatbuilders. These include the likes of Maritimo and also the great tinnie producer, Telwater Marine, which produces 10,000 tinnies there, as well as a number of other yacht builders and boatbuilders.

One of the key areas of concern for these boatbuilders, whilst these issues of debate and legislation are important, is the issue of grey imports. These are boats flooding in from overseas which are not required to meet Australian manufacturing standards, are not required to have Australian manufacturing plates certifying their met standards, are not required to meet Australian safety standards and, of course, have only tier 1emission standards engines. The rest of the world—the rest of the world meaning the United States, Europe and, I believe, even Somalia—is moving to tiers 2 and 3 emission standards for inboard engines over 37 kilowatts. Australia has not moved into that area to do that. Therefore, a large number of boats and engines over that power rating that only meet tier 1 standards are coming into Australia.

At present there are regulations in terms of motor vessels, and there is an overarching piece of legislation that allows regs to hang off motor vehicles, but there is nothing that covers motor vessels. So whilst the coalition will support the government as they seek to have nationally consistent laws that line up in maritime, rail safety and the heavy vehicle industries, I think there is also space for the opposition and the government to commence a dialogue on how we deal with other areas of the boating industry to ensure that boats and engines that are imported into Australia in that pleasure craft space comply with Australian manufacturing law, comply with Australian standards and comply with Australian safety requirements and, of course, have a tier 2- or 3-emission engine. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss these issues with the minister. The current bills on the table enjoy the coalition's support.