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Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Page: 197

Mr VAILE (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (12:11 PM) —I thank all members who have made a contribution to the discussion on the Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2007. To sum up, the bill will enable the integration of the Australian Maritime College with the University of Tasmania to proceed. The integration is strongly supported by both organisations as a means to facilitate greater leveraging of capabilities, broaden course offerings and generate cost reductions through the rationalisation of facilities. They are all objectives that I am sure all members would support. Certainly those members who I have listened to in the last half hour in the chamber have alluded to them. This will ensure that Australia and the region continue to have access to a world-class maritime research, education and training institute.

The bill repeals the Maritime College Act 1978, under which the college was established and currently operates, and transfers all assets and liabilities from the college to the university. In return, for a period of five years the university will be subject to conditions on certain funding it receives from the Commonwealth under the Higher Education Support Act 2003. These conditions will ensure that the college continues to operate as intended after it is integrated into the university. I will come to some of the conditions in a minute.

The bill also authorises the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA, to share its information with other Australian state and territory government agencies and other parties for the specific purposes of maritime domain awareness, maritime safety, protection of the marine environment and efficiency of maritime transportation. This information includes data from a new, international, long-range identification and tracking system for ships, which comes into force on 1 January 2008. Information from the new system will be distributed to other government agencies through the Australian Maritime Identification System, AMIS. AMSA receives vessel movement information from other sources, which also is to be fed into AMIS for distribution to other government agencies to improve whole-of-government maritime domain awareness.

There is currently no specific legal authority for AMSA to share with other parties information gathered for its purposes. In addition to the benefits to Australian government agencies in sharing in AMSA’s information sources, states and territories, port authorities and coastal pilot service providers could use AMSA’s information to improve navigation safety, environmental protection and transport efficiency, including in such areas as vessel traffic management and port infrastructure planning and operations. The information will be released only for the purposes specified in the bill, and its release will be subject to internal written procedures and written agreements with relevant parties that will specify the conditions on which the information is to be released and how it is to be handled to ensure compliance with relevant privacy and information laws.

On the first part of the amendment with regard to the Australian Maritime College, and to respond to some of the aspects of the shadow spokesman’s amendment, I inform the chamber that in this amendment, at item 17, the bill provides that one of the conditions on the university—and I mentioned that those conditions apply for five years—is that the AMC have a board that includes persons with expertise in the shipping industry and knowledge of seafarer issues, shipping safety and seafarer certification. The condition, to be in place for five years, requires the Minister for Transport and Regional Services to be satisfied that the AMC is continuing to meet its maritime certification in education, training and research objectives. This is the sentiment behind the opposition’s amendment and, as far as the government is concerned, that is certainly reflected in that condition that will be applied to the university with the transfer of these responsibilities so that there remains not just representation on the board but fundamentally a continued focus on seafarer issues, shipping safety and seafarer certification. I commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Quick)—The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Batman has moved as an amendment that all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.

Question agreed to.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.