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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3553

Senator VIGOR(6.24) —by leave-I move:

(1) Page 12, after clause 17, insert the following clause:


``17A. The Principal Act is amended by adding after section 8 the following section:

`8A. This Part has effect as if-

(a) that part of the line referred to in paragraph (9) of regulation 1 of Annex I to the Convention which is between the point latitude 9*00' South and the point latitude 21*00' South were 1*00' East of the position indicated in that paragraph; and

(b) that part of the sea in Bass Strait which lies between 143*00' East longitude and 149*00' East longitude and which is more than 50 nautical miles from the nearest land were less than 50 nautical miles from the nearest land.'.''.

(2) Page 23, clause 28, after proposed new Part IIIC, insert the following new Part:


``Prohibition of discharge of radioactive substances in sea

``26G. (1) Subject to sub-section (3), if any discharge of a radioactive substance, or of a mixture containing a radioactive substance, being a substance or mixture carried as cargo or part cargo in bulk, occurs from an Australian ship into the sea, the master and the owner of the ship are each guilty of an offence punishable, upon conviction, by a fine not exceeding-

(a) if the offender is a natural person-$50,000; or

(b) if the offender is a body corporate-$250,000.

``(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), `radioactive substance' means a substance having a specific activity greater than 350 becquerels per kilogram.

``(3) Sub-section (1) does not apply in relation to the sea near a State.

``(4) Sub-section (1) does not apply to the discharge of a radioactive substance or a mixture from a foreign ship unless the discharge occurs in the sea near the Jervis Bay Territory or an external Territory.

``(5) Sub-section (1) does not apply to the discharge of a radioactive substance or a mixture from a ship-

(a) for the purposes of securing the safety of a ship or saving life at sea;

(b) if the substance or the mixture, as the case may be, escaped from the ship in consequence of damage, other than intentional damage, to the ship or its equipment, and all reasonable precautions were taken after the occurrence of the damage or the discovery of the discharge for the purpose of preventing or minimising the escape of the substance or the mixture, as the case may be; or

(c) if the discharge was for the purpose of combating specific pollution incidents in order to minimise the damage from pollution and was approved by a prescribed officer and, where the discharge occurred in the jurisdiction of the government of a country other than Australia, by that government.

``(6) For the purposes of sub-section (5), damage to a ship or to its equipment shall be taken to be intentional damage if, and only if, the damage arose in circumstances in which the master or owner of the ship-

(a) acted with intent to cause the damage; or

(b) acted recklessly and with knowledge that damage would probably result.''.

The first of these amendments deals with the extension of the area in which there should be no dumping at all. Currently, the area is defined by lines and the distance set out is approximately 60 nautical miles from the edge of land. However, at the Barrier Reef it is the edge of the reef which is described in the legislation. This amendment will move the line one degree east of its current position which gives an extra 50 nautical miles of protected area approximately at the base of the reef. The second paragraph of the first amendment deals with Bass Strait. Bass Strait is described as being between longitude 143 degrees east and longitude 149 degrees east, which basically puts a line on either side of Tasmania which means that any sea which is between Tasmania and the mainland shall be considered to be the area in which no dumping shall take place. That is the basis of the first amendment.

The second amendment deals with the prevention of pollution by radioactive substances and imposes pretty high penalties on the discharge of any radioactive substance. We have described the radioactive substances accurately in terms of the number of becquerels. Three hundred and fifty becquerels per kilogram excludes normal radioactivity that we would expect from material that could be disposed of over the side of a ship. Three hundred and fifty becquerels per kilogram will actually have a significant effect on a geiger counter. This particular level of radioactivity is set out in the London Convention and that is why we have chosen it. I commend the two amendments to the Committee and hope that honourable senators will support them.

Amendments negatived.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.