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Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
11/05/2015
Treaties tabled on 3 and 5 March 2015

GROVES, Mr Brad, General Manager, Navigation Safety and International Division, Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

MASON, Mr David, Executive Director, Treaties Secretariat, International Legal Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

McDONALD, Mr Andrew, Director, Maritime Economic Regulation Section, Maritime and Shipping Branch, Surface Transport Policy Division, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Resolution A.1070 (28): International Ma ritime Organization Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) (London, 4 December 2013) and amendments to various IMO treaties

CHAIR: I welcome the witnesses. You may like to note that today's proceedings are being broadcast online. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise you that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and warrants the same respect as proceedings of the House and the Senate. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. If you nominate to take any questions on notice, please ensure that your written response to questions reaches the committee secretariat within seven working days of your receipt of the transcript of today's proceedings. To start, would anyone like to make an opening statement?

Mr Groves : Today we are discussing amendments to a number of treaties to make mandatory the IMO Instruments Implementation Code, known as the III Code, as well as amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended, and this will implement several technical safety measures. At the International Maritime Organization's 28th session of assembly on 4 December 2013, the assembly adopted the III Code through resolution A1070 and, in doing so, the structure and content of the III Code was agreed to. However, subsequent resolutions were required to implement the III Code into a number of IMO treaties.

An agreement was reached at the 28th session of assembly and at the 93rd session of the Maritime Safety Committee to implement the III Code through amendments to several conventions: the International Convention on Load Lines 1966; the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships 1969; the International Convention on Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea 1972; the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974; the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers 1978; and the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines 1966. The Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines 1966was introduced to harmonise survey and certification requirements with other significant IMO treaties as well as to introduce tacit amendment procedures. The III Code will be applied to both the load lines convention 1966 and the protocol of 1988 through resolutions A1083 and MSC375.

The committee may recall that, on 16 March this year, it considered amendments in relation to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, known as MARPOL. Today we are discussing equivalent measures to IMO treaties relating to maritime safety. The purpose of making the III Code mandatory is to ensure that parties to these IMO conventions facilitate and be subject to periodic audits by the IMO to ensure compliance with respect to treaty requirements. A mandatory audit scheme is a key tool for assessing member states' performance in meeting their obligations and responsibilities as flag states, port states and coastal states. The intention of making the III Code mandatory is not only to ensure member states are adhering to mandatory requirements but also to give opportunity to identify capacity-building needs and offer technical assistance to member states where required.

Acceptance of the amendments by Australia will ensure that the IMO instruments are applied universally and in a manner consistent with the objectives of the convention. Specifically, the amendments noted in relation to the abovementioned conventions will further strengthen the maritime safety outcomes in Australian waters and beyond. Australia is a longstanding supporter of the International Maritime Organization's audit scheme and sees the value of this scheme for all parties to IMO conventions. Australia participated in the voluntary scheme during 2008 and we would have no hesitation in Australia being assessed under the mandatory scheme into the future.

Resolutions MSC365, 366, 373 and 375 will be deemed to have been accepted by IMO member states by 1 July this year unless, prior to that date, more than one-third of contracting parties to the respective conventions or contracting parties the combined merchant fleet of which constitutes not less than 50 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant fleet have notified their objections to the amendments. Following the deemed acceptance date, each of these resolutions will enter into force on 1 January 2016. Resolution A1085 will enter into force on 1 January 2016 unless, by July 2015, more than one-third of the contracting parties of the convention have notified their objection to the amendment. The amendments proposed in resolutions A1083 and A1084 will enter into force 12 months following the unanimous acceptance of all contracting parties to the respective conventions. The mandatory auditing under the III Code is expected to commence in 2016. In Australia, the implementation of these resolutions will be captured by the existing legislative framework. Acceptance by Australia of the amendments to implement the III Code would not impose any regulatory burden on the industry as the audit will be of the Australian government's performance in meeting its obligations under the various IMO instruments.

I will now turn to Maritime Safety Committee resolution 3655. At the 93rd session of the MSC, resolution 365 was adopted on 22 May 2014 amending the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. This resolution will make minor amendments to a number of existing technical standards relating to fire safety in ships and verification of compliance with existing standards. These standards will apply to new passenger ships, cargo ships, tankers and oil tankers as well as gas carriers. Resolution MSC365 will be deemed to have been accepted by 1 July 2015 unless, prior to that date, more than one-third of the contracting parties to the convention or contracting parties the combined merchant fleet of which constitutes not less than 50 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant fleet have notified their objections to the amendments. If accepted, the amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2016.

We anticipate that the amendments proposed in this resolution may result in minor cost increases for the Australian shipping industry. Consultation on the development of these amendments has been undertaken with Australian shipping industry representatives, with no concerns expressed. In Australia, the implementation of this resolution will be captured by the existing legislative framework through marine orders. These orders are administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Honourable members and senators, thank you for providing us with this opportunity to make opening remarks. We are happy to respond to any questions that committee members may have.

CHAIR: The regulatory framework exists under the current legislation when it comes to the government, but I was curious as to whether the relevant departments need any further resources to comply with the orders.

Mr Groves : I do not think there is a requirement for any additional resources. Australia underwent a voluntary audit in 2008 and it was existing resources that were utilised at that time. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority coordinated the voluntary audit at that time through existing resources. We had to coordinate with a number of other government agencies—the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, as they were known at the time, and the Australian Hydrographic Service. Those agencies were able to coordinate and assist with existing resources.

CHAIR: Excellent.

Mr McDonald : There is already provision for those resources under the existing arrangements.

CHAIR: So it is not going to cost the taxpayer more to comply with this?

Mr McDonald : No.

CHAIR: Excellent.

Mr WHITELEY: I have only one question. It is a very quick one. You said the imposition on shipping companies will be modest and in your briefings with them they have raised no concerns. I just wanted to clarify that. The cost of shipping in Australia is always an issue compared to our competitors. In the make-up of the IMO, is there a significant group of companies that have signed up to this treaty?

Mr Groves : The IMO is made up of member-states. There are 170 nations at the table that—

Mr WHITELEY: So our major competitors would be part of that?

Mr Groves : Correct.

CHAIR: Thank you so much for attending today. If we have any further questions, the committee secretariat will be in contact at a later date. Thanks, everyone.

Resolved that these proceedings be published.

Committee adjourned at 11:57