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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
23/05/2012
Estimates
INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO
Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

[20:17]

CHAIR: Mr Peachey, welcome to you and your crew. Questions, Senator Williams.

Senator WILLIAMS: Thanks, Chair. Mr Peachey, welcome. There have been concerns raised with me about the transparency of the AMSA process in its consultation about draft Marine Orders Part 3, issue 7. Do you know how many submissions AMSA received during its Marine Orders Part 3 consultation period?

Mr Peachey : We received 202 written submissions.

Senator WILLIAMS: In the break-up of those submissions, do you know how many were from companies?

Mr Kinley : We will have to take that on notice.

Senator WILLIAMS: Do you know how many submissions were from other organisations? Can you take that on notice?

Mr Kinley : I can take that on notice. All I can tell you at this stage is that 180 were from individual seafarers.

Senator WILLIAMS: That was my next question. One hundred and eighty from individual seafarers?

Mr Kinley : Yes, largely from one particular union.

Senator WILLIAMS: How many submissions were received through the AMSA MO3 consultation webpage? Did you get many through your webpage?

Mr Kinley : We will take that on notice.

Senator WILLIAMS: The AMSA webpage submission options include a question asking if the author wished the submission to be private. How many of the persons or organisations requested privacy?

Mr Kinley : We will take that one on notice.

Senator WILLIAMS: How many of the persons or organisations indicated that their submissions were public? Do you want to take that on notice as well?

Mr Kinley : Yes.

Senator WILLIAMS: Would you have any idea of how many submissions were received from government departments?

Mr Kinley : None that I am aware of, but I will check on that.

Mr Peachey : We do not have the breakdown of individual submissions or where they are from, but we are happy to provide whatever details you require.

Senator WILLIAMS: Yes, good. Did you receive any submission from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport?

Mr Kinley : Not that I am aware of, no.

Senator WILLIAMS: How much would it cost AMSA to upload the submissions from the persons or organisations that indicated their submissions were public? Would it cost much to do that?

Mr Kinley : I would say that it would not cost much.

Senator WILLIAMS: Would AMSA be prepared to upload them?

Mr Kinley : Generally we provide a summary of submissions. I am assuming these questions are coming from one particular constituency. They have already FOI’d all of the submissions, so they should have all of that information by now.

Senator WILLIAMS: That is an assumption I think you are making. I want to ask about electrical safety on board Australian ships in the future. How many Australian registered ships carry marine electricians or electrical engineers?

Mr Kinley : Currently there are no minimum safe manning documents for Australian ships that actually specify an electrical engineer. I am aware that some ships do carry electrical engineers—for example, the Bass Strait ferries carry electricians—but there is no mandatory requirement. Australian marine engineers are certificated with the required competencies for electrical work as part of their overall qualifications.

Senator WILLIAMS: Do you know how many foreign flagged vessels operating in Australia’s exclusive economic zone carry marine electricians or electrical engineers?

Mr Kinley : I would not have an answer to that. I would not even know how to go about getting an answer to that one.

Senator WILLIAMS: Has AMSA asked Australian based shipping employers whether they approve of the IMO STCW 2010 option of a new certificate of competency for an electro-technical officer?

Mr Kinley : That was certainly an issue that was raised in the feedback on Marine Orders Part 3, and we have certainly agreed in discussions with ship owners that we will investigate, including that category of electro-technical officer, in future versions of Marine Orders Part 3.

Senator WILLIAMS: What has been the basic reply? Do they approve of those certificate of competencies?

Mr Kinley : Some do and some are silent on the issue.

Senator WILLIAMS: Do any oppose it?

Mr Kinley : Not that I am aware of, no.

Senator WILLIAMS: Marine engineers currently carry out electrical work onboard Australian ships. What will happen to the electrical training component of a marine engineer’s training if their total training and sea service period is compressed from three years down to one year?

Mr Kinley : There is no proposal to compress that from three years to one year.

Senator WILLIAMS: It will not happen?

Mr Kinley : No.

Senator WILLIAMS: Good.

Senator NASH: How many times has Ian Rintoul, a member of the Refugee Action Coalition, or any members of the Australian United Hazara Association contacted AMSA to inform them of people-smuggling operations or boats either in distress or otherwise?

Mr Young : I do not have an answer to that question. That requires some research. Could I take it on notice?

Senator NASH: That would be great. I expect you could take this question on notice as well: if anybody from the association itself, apart from that gentleman, has?

Mr Young : Yes.

Senator NASH: Thank you. Could you also take on notice how many times AMSA has received calls from organisations such as that? I suspect these will need to be on notice too. If any of these people or organisations have contacted AMSA about illegal boats, in what circumstances is that communication made? By that, I mean are the calls received before or after the boats are intercepted or before or after they have arrived in Australian waters? Also, how many reports from any of these individuals or groups about vessels needing assistance have actually required the assistance of Australian authorities to secure life onboard illegal vessels? Again, I am expecting you to take these on notice. Also, have you reported the calls to the AFP, and if not, why not? If you could take those on notice, that would be useful.

Mr Young : Certainly.

Senator NASH: On an entirely different issue, I am interested in livestock transportation by vessel. Can you outline the process used by Australian maritime authorities to register vessels approved for use in transporting livestock, either into or out from Australian waters, and what factors are taken into account?

Mr Kinley : We approve ships to carry livestock from Australian ports under delegated legislation, Marine Orders Part 43. That marine order specifies the holding conditions for livestock onboard ship. It specifies such things as pen strengths, so that animals cannot get loose and run around ships; pen sizes, which is related to stability of the ship, so livestock cannot make the ship unseaworthy; emergency lighting and those sorts of arrangements for the livestock spaces; ventilation capacities; freshwater supply systems and food supply systems for the livestock. We have very comprehensive requirements for how those systems are supplied and for the redundancies in those systems, and I would have to say that Australia’s regulations and standards lead the world in that particular regard.

Before a ship can be approved to carry livestock from Australia, they will apply to AMSA to say they are going to bring a ship into the trade or they are building a ship for that trade. We will then go through a plan approval process which will look at how they are going to build the systems to comply with those standards and, finally, we will actually do an inspection on the vessel to ensure it complies with the standards before we issue the vessel with an Australian certificate for the carriage of livestock.

Senator NASH: Yes, my understanding is what you do is very good. Is there an international equivalent to our standards?

Mr Kinley : No.

Senator NASH: That leads me to my next question. In relation to the fact that the oil industry has international standards for sea transport, is there any scope for Australia to take a lead role in establishing some kind of international standard, given the level that we are operating at in this area? Have there been any discussions around that at all?

Mr Kinley : From my recollection, we have discussed it in the past with the International Maritime Organisation. My recollection, again, is that there was not a great appetite. The International Maritime Organisation generally has a very full work program. At the moment their work program is full of things like greenhouse gas emissions, passenger ship safety, piracy and all those sorts of things. At the time it was raised I do not think there was a great appetite. Not all countries everywhere in the world actually have a livestock trade, so there was not a great deal of interest in it. But it is something that I would say we will keep on the backburner and, should we ever see an opportunity, we would certainly promote that.

Senator NASH: It would seem a very sensible thing to do. Is the Hong Kong flagged bulk carrier still drifting off the Barrier Reef?

Mr Peachey : That is in Cairns at the moment. It is safely anchored in Cairns.

Senator NASH: Are there any risks to the reef? Has there been any issue with fuel leakage? Do you want to just give us a quick overview of where things are at and if there has been risk of any damage?

Mr Peachey : It is my understanding that there is no risk, that the vessel was towed in with the agreement of the relevant authorities in Queensland and it is safely anchored in Cairns at the moment.

Senator NASH: Were there many vessels around where the ship was drifting at the time? Was there any imminent danger to other vessels?

Mr Peachey : When the vessel was drifting we endeavoured to contact ships in the area to see if they could come to assistance, but there were no ships in that area at the time.

Senator NASH: When something like that happens, what is your role to ensure in this instance that the reef is protected? Is there a role for AMSA in that sort of vigilance area?

Mr Peachey : Very much so. We were involved from the start and when the vessels—

Senator NASH: Sorry, that might seem like a stupid question, but it is not really something I do every day, so I am interested to know.

Mr Peachey : Thankfully we do not do it every day either! When the vessels in strife contacted us we were in daily contact with them and we assisted with getting the vessel to safe anchorage.

Senator NASH: Are pilots required to be on board ships?

Mr Peachey : Not in that area. The vessel had a broken engine. I do not think a pilot would have made one iota of difference anyway.

Senator NASH: Thanks very much.

Senator COLBECK: I have a couple of quick questions. Has there been any change in the status of Mr Zussino’s role with AMSA or the Gladstone Port Authority?

Ms O'Connell : No change.

Senator COLBECK: No change in either of those as far as you are aware?

Mr Mrdak : No.

Senator COLBECK: Neither with AMSA nor the Gladstone Port Authority?

Mr Mrdak : He continues in both roles.

Senator COLBECK: I have had some inquiry in relation to the requirements of first-aid kits across different levels of vessels under the harmonised OH&S guidelines. Is there any scale of those or is there the same sort of requirement across all sorts of vessel types? Could you break that down for me?

Mr Kinley : Under the Navigation Act at the moment there are requirements for first-aid supplies and equipment for large ships. There are some requirements under the National Standard for Commercial Vessels.

Senator COLBECK: Does that come under your responsibility?

Mr Kinley : It will do from 1 January next year. I am not aware of any issues surrounding the interaction of those standards with the harmonised workplace health and safety laws. I would have to get back to you on that one.

Senator COLBECK: Under what process would those requirements be managed?

Mr Kinley : Just on the jurisdictional point of view, the harmonised workplace health and safety laws are generally implemented by the state workplace health and safety authorities because the smaller vessels are currently under state jurisdiction as state workplaces. They are looked after by the state authorities, so currently we do not have any say over that. We certainly are responsible for the ships under the Navigation Act, where we are also the OH&S regulator, and we do not currently have any issues under our jurisdiction.

Senator COLBECK: How are negotiations going in respect of the new harmonised standards process? We have discussed it before and you have given us some detail on that and we have had specific conversations about certain elements of it. Where are we at with that complete process?

Mr Peachey : Is this the establishment of a single jurisdiction?

Senator COLBECK: Yes.

Mr Peachey : Maybe I could hand it over.

Ms O'Connell : Yes. Last Friday the Australian transport ministers voted and agreed to the legislation for a single national maritime regulator. That legislation will be introduced into the Commonwealth parliament, so it is on track for 1 January implementation of the single national maritime regulator.

Senator COLBECK: All the standards and requirements that sit under that are now effectively agreed by the various states?

Mr Mrdak : They have agreed the head legislation which will go into the Commonwealth parliament. It will be introduced into the House tomorrow morning, which will provide for Commonwealth national law. It will then be a matter for states to pass the laws in their respective jurisdictions to give effect to that. The passage in the Commonwealth parliament will start from tomorrow. The various regulatory provisions under that will then be developed.

Senator COLBECK: But the frameworks and the issues within those have been the subject of consultation over a fairly long period of time, so where are the various levels and various scales of industry in respect of agreement to those processes?

Mr Peachey : You are right, there has been a lot of consultation. We have been around the countryside a few times and we have been at pains to reach out to as many as possible of the industry concerned. We have used state based consultative arrangements quite successfully, using individual operators. What has come out of that is the regulatory plan that has been developed. It is quite a comprehensive study of what the regulatory scheme will look like into the future. That is the basis for moving to the next step in terms of developing marine orders to support that regulatory plan.

Mr Kinley : I will just add that the National Standard for Commercial Vessels has been in existence for some time and has been approved by the ATC. That standard development continues but this is about having harmonised implementation of standards that are already agreed.

Senator COLBECK: We have had some conversations about application of those at a state level. Complementary legislation will need to be passed in each of the jurisdictions.

Mr Mrdak : It might not require legislation in some situations, but there will be need for regulatory effect through various arrangements with AMSA and the like.

Senator COLBECK: If the legislation is passed, that should be ready to go by 1 January?

Ms O'Connell : That is right.

Senator COLBECK: I do not have anything further, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you, gentlemen.