Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Maritime industry - Commission of Inquiry - Report - Maritime standards and controls, 30 June 1976

Download PDF Download PDF

Parliamentary Paper No. 317/1976

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Commission of Inquiry into the Maritime Industry


June 1976

Presented by Command 2 November 1976

Ordered to be printed 18 November 1976

The Acting Commonwealth Government Printer

Canberra 1977

Commonwealth of Australia 19'76

ISBN 0 642 02171 6

Printed by Authority by Commonwealth Government Printer


Office of the Commissioner

Your Excellency,

P 0 Box 547 Canberra City, ACT 2601

Telephone 47 4611

June 1976

I have the honour to present my fifth Report in

accordance with Letters Patent dated 25 September 1973. This Report deals with Maritime Standards and Controls.

His Excellency, The Honourable Sir John Kerr, A . K., G.C.M.G., K.St.J., Q.C., Governor-General,

Government House, CANBERRA .


(M.M. Summers) Commissioner




Relation to other reports of Commission

Areas of the term of reference


Seaworthiness of ships and their equipment

Flexible adm inistrative procedures

We l fare and competence of seafarers

Certain operational issues

Register of Ships

Administration of coasting trade policy

Administrative implications of Commonwealth jurisdiction


Navigational aids

Seaworthiness of s hips a nd their equipment

Welfare and competenc e of seafarers

Certain operational issues



(Also included, although not part of this Report, is a brief comment on "Tr a ining for Personnel other than Seafarers" . This is at page 41 of this Report)






















"The most appropriate administrative

and organisational arrangements for

the exercise of operational and

safety policies, standards and

controls over the maritime industry"

(Item 2 in Terms of Reference).

This report is concerned with administrative and organisational arrangements for the Australian maritime industry. In accordance with the terms of reference it concentrates on arrangements needed to carry out Government policies.



2. This report is to be read in conjunction with other

reports of this Commission.

3. In particular, this report is to be read in

conjunction with the Commission's report on Item 1, "Australian Maritime Legislation". That report recommends many changes in the Navigation Act and in other legislation relating to the maritime industry. Many of these legislative changes would, if

adopted, call for administrative or organisational changes, which are dealt with as relevant in the present report.

4. This report should also be read in conjunction with

the Commission's report on Item 3 of the Terms of Reference, "Report on International Maritime Conventions". Many of the safety standards applied to the Australian maritime industry by Government controls flow from international conventions.

- 1 -

5. Only passing reference will be made to the function

of providing navigational aids. Although this is a very important operational service to the maritime industry, it has already been dealt with in an earlier report by the Commission entitled "Report on navigational aid systems". 6. For the same reason, the report will not deal in any

detail with the question of the training of seafarers or of controls to establish the competency of the men when trained. That subject has been dealt with in the Commission's "Report on training requirements for sea-going personnel".

7. It has been the past practice of this Commission to

present its reports in two parts: the principles and proposals in Part I and factual and background material in Part II. The

nature of this report is such that it cannot follow that

procedure because of the extent to which it deals with administrative aspects of various matters dealt with in other reports.


(a) ?objects dealt with

8. This report will devote its attention to operational

and safety standards and controls which have been specified as the responsibility of the Commonwealth Department of Transport in relation to the Australian maritime industry. These matters are discussed in more detail later in this report.

(b) Subjects not dealt with

9. Customs requirements, quarantine and other health

matters, immigration controls and a number of similar functions are not applied only to the maritime industry but also to the movement of passengers and cargoes to and from Australia by aircraft as well as ships. Controls in relation to these

matters apply of course to all ships in Australian ports, and do not apply in any exclusive way to the Australian maritime industry.

(c) Stevedoring

10. The Commission does not propose to deal with

administrative or organisational questions related to stevedoring. The Commission takes this view because the Government has recently made basic decisions about its approach to stevedoring, contained in the statement made to the Parliament by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations on May 6.

- 2 -

(d) Commonwealth jurisdiction

11. In pa st years there has been a legal view that the

Commonwealth responsibility and powers in relation to the operation of the Australian maritime industry were directed ma inly to control over ships engaged in interstate or overseas trade and commerce .

1 2 . At the time of writing, however, it seems that the

recent High Court judgement on the Seas and Submerged Lands Act 1973 might have the effect of bringing some other types of s hipping and shipping operation into the Commonwealth's field o f legislative power. Intrastate cargo ships, fishing boats a nd pleasure craft, for example might then be brought more under Commonwealth control in the future .

1 3 . If this proves to be the case, it would create a very

l a r g e new administrative task, either for the Commonwealth to take on itself, or for the Commonwealth to work out co-operatively with State maritime safety administrations. Aspects of this que s tion are discussed later in this report, under the heading

Administra tive Implications of Commonwealth Jurisdiction .

- 3 -



(a) Ship construction standards

14. The safety standards to which ships to be operated by

Australian owners are required to be designed and built are embodied in the Navigation Act, and the Regulations made under that Act, supplemented by Marine Notices issued by the Department of Transport.

15. Technical experts in the Department of Transport

(naval architects and nautical and engineering surveyors) draw up and suggest changes to these standards. Originally the standards embodied in most Australian Regulations were based on British requirements. In more recent years however Australian

standards have been supplemented by international experience as embodied in international safety conventions, and of course, by special Australian requirements.

16. In respect of some aspects of the ship and its

equipment officers of the Department of Transport are directly responsible, and Classification Societies are relied upon in respect of other aspects.

17. This split in safety supervision of shtp construction

has developed in practice over the years, seems to work reasonably well, and minimises possible duplications of effort.

18. The Classification Societies (Lloyds, American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas and Det Norske Veritas) each have developed their own rules with which the ship must conform if it is to be certified by the Classification Society. These rules have regard for the international safety conventions mentioned above and thus are in line with the requirements of maritime administrations such as Australia.

19. The Classification Societies are concerned primarily with the structural soundness of the ship. They concentrate on such matters as the strength of the hull, the manner in which

the ship is built, the general suitability of engine room equipment and installations (except safety equipment) and such matters.

20. Approved Classification Societies conduct surveys and issue prescribed certificates for the hull and engines of cargo ships and assign load lines and issue load line certificates. Usually Departmental surveyors and naval architects do not

survey cargo ships in respect of these matters if the ship is being surveyed by an approved Classification Society. In practice, they concentrate their attention on other aspects of the ship's design, the safe operation of various types of

- 4 -

equipment installed in the ship, and a great number of other aspects of the ship's design and construction.

21. Some ships are exceptions to this practice, because

they have special features, (for example, in their design or in the materials of which the ship is built) and are not covered

by the rules of the Classification Societies. For example, at the present time ships built from ferro cement or small ships built from aluminium alloys must receive the direct approval of the Department's naval architects as regards their structural

s trength and method of construction. The Classification Societies have not yet drawn up rules to cover these matters.

22. Fundamentally however, whether the survey task is

c a rried out by a Classification Society, or by the Department's officers, all ships to which the Navigation Act applies are required to conform to the standards embodied in the Act and the Regulations made under it.

(b) Quality of Australian safety standards

23. In general, the standards laid down and applied to

ships and their equipment these days by many maritime administrations in the world conform, broadly, to principles embodied in international conventions.

24. These principles have mainly been internationalised

by the work of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation, (IMCO) which is an international organisation under the United Nations concerned with the wide range of technical issues affecting the safety of ships internationally.

25. Australia is an active member of IMCO and is a party

to the basic conventions, i.e. the Safety of Life at Sea

Convention, and the Load Line Convention, which govern these matters internationally. The Australian maritime administration has made useful contributions to establishing world standards through its representation at IMCO and its work on safety

conventions. (This subject is dealt with specifically in the report on Item 3 of the Terms of Reference, "Report on International Maritime Conventions"). 26. This Commission takes the view that Australian

standards of safety and the quality of inspection work by Australian surveyors are of about the same standard as those of many other maritime countries.

(c) Ship and equipment surveys

27. When ships have passed the necessary surveys they are

given the appropriate safety and load line certificates.

- 5 -

24402 / 76-3

28. The certificates state that the ship and its

equipment comply, at the time of the survey inspection, with the standards laid down in the Navigation Act and Regulations in relation to the ship's structure or the particular items of equipment which the certificate covers. Each certificate has a prescribed validity period (mostly twelve months). Surveyors reinspect towards the end of the prescribed period to see whether the aspects of the ship or its equipment covered by the certificate still comply with the standards embodied in the Regulations. This is a very large part of the surveyors' work,

involving annual surveys of all Australian ships within Commonwealth jurisdiction.

29. Australian surveyors frequently carry out similar

tasks in respect of foreign ships visiting Australia. In principle, the possession of survey certificates by a ship, issued by its country's survey authority (where that country is a party to the SOLAS Convention) is accepted as indicating

that the standard of construction of the ship and its equipment complies with the international safety convention.

30. It can of course happen that since a ship was last

surveyed by its own administration, wear and tear, or some misfortune, has caused part of the ship or its equipment to deteriorate to below standard. If such a situation is found by the Australian surveyors, they require maintenance or repairs

to be done to bring the ship back to standard (acting in

consultation with the diplomatic of the maritime

administration controlling that ship's safety standards).

31. Some of the certificates of foreign ships may happen

to expire while the ship is in Australian waters. Should this happen Australian surveyors, at the request of the flag state, perform surveys so that the ship's certificates can be extended for a short period, or fresh internationally acceptable certificates can be issued.

(d) Specific safety controls

32. In addition to survey of the safety of the structure

of ships and of their equipment, surveyors also carry out a large number of inspections or controls designed to reduce the dangers in particular problem situations.

33. This type of work relates for example to the stowage

and handling of cargoes which have some dangerous characteristics or other problem peculiarities. Such cargoes are chemicals and other cargo identified as "dangerous goods", grain, livestock, pig iron and coal.

- 6 -

34. For example, many chemicals can only be stowed in

ships in a particular fashion because, for example, of the risk that they might explode, or catch fire if overheated. There can be risks to the crew, and to waterside workers working in the holds of the ship .

35 . In a similar sense, bulk loading of grain poses

particular problems for the stability of ships at sea, if the g rain shifts. Consequently, there are regulations governing how grain ships are to be loaded, and a requirement that the

s hip be inspected by a surveyor after loading before it is al lowed to sail.

(e) Summary of standards and controls for seaworthiness of ship

36. The work of surveyors and naval architects in relation

to safe standards for ships and equipment can be summarised as four functions .

37. The first function is the setting of the basic

s tandards themselves, b ased- on professional knowledge, sea-going experience and the guidance of international conventions.

38. The second function is the application of those

s tandards to the construction and equipment of ships for Australian owners, whether the ships are built in Australia or overseas.

39. The third function is to survey regularly Australian

certificated ships after they have been in operation, to see that they still comply with the standards to which they were certificated (and to do similar work, where requested, to survey foreign flag convention ships while in Australia).

40 . The fourth function is to carry out a wide range of

inspection tasks concerned with particular operations which have special requirements, such as the loading and unloading gear of ships, the handling of dangerous cargoes, the loading of grain, and other specific safety matters of that kind.


(a) Safety Codes

41 . In its "Report on Australian Maritime Legislation" the

Commission has followed a principle that it is better to remove matters of detail from the Navigation Act and place them in the Regulations made under that Act. This will introduce flexibility into making changes in detail requirements, within

the broad principles stipulated in the Act itself.

- 7 -

42. The Commission believes that this principle can be

carried a step further in relation to safety controls. At the present time the basic procedure used in implementing the safety controls described earlier in this Report is to work within the provisions of Part IV of the Navigation Act and the

Regulations made under that Part. Surveyors survey ships in terms of requirements set out in detail in the Regulations, under powers provided in the Act and elaborated in the Regulations, and with penalties for non-compliance embodied in

those Regulations.

43. Past practice has been to seek to put into the

Regulations all provisions and procedures which relate to safety on board ships. The Commission thinks that it would be possible instead to put practical operating requirements into a safety code, and retain in the Regulations only matters which require enforcement.

44. The test of whether a particular requirement should

go into the code or into the Regulations should be that the

Regulations should only requirements where failure to

comply with the requirement should lead to a prosecution and a penalty. Where the legal processes of prosecution and penalties are necessary as deterrents, then the requirement should continue to be embodied in the Regulations.

45. In this connection the Commission has noted the work

which has been done within the ILO which has resulted in the development of the I.L.O. Prevention of Accidents (Seafarers) Convention (discussed in the Commission's Report on International Maritime Conventions) and analagous work in the U.K., and work in IMCO in respect of a code for stowage of

bulk cargoes.

46. As new technology is developing there are frequently

aspects, of how equipment should be used or how particular cargo should be handled, which evolve from experience over time. Where some new problem is discovered from this experience, it is important to get advice of it out to the ships quickly. The

difficulties in converting these points into regulatory form can often mean that it takes considerable time to embody the new development in a regulation. During that interim period it would be best if the advice as to the sound procedures could be

disseminated quickly and widely. The Commission notes that the Department of Transport has begun to make use of its Marine Notices for this purpose.

47. The Commission considers that the Department should

extend its use of Marine Notices, with the objective of building up the content of the notices into a practical code of safe practices, supplementing, and where appropriate replacing, the contents of Regulations. The ILO Convention referred to above calls for consultations with the industry. The Commission would expect that, in moving to wider use of Marine Notices as

- 8 -

a basis for a . code, consultations with the industry would be a useful part of the process.

(b) Dangerous Goods

48 . A similar approach should be applied to controls over

the handling of dangerous goods. At the present time the identification of particular goods as "dangerous goods" and the stipulation of how they should be packed, stowed and carried, is expressed by determinations published in the Gazette under the Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations.

49. The problem with this procedure is that the pace of

industrial development, for example in new chemical formulations, means that there are large numbers of new products coming into international trade frequently, with dangerous characteristics if they are not handled in a safe way on board ships .

SO. It would be more flexible to take advantage of the

international study going on constantly on these matters. IMCO keeps the question of the handling of dangerous goods under review and the IMCO code for the handling of dangerous goods is kept up to date with frequent amendments in respect of new

types of cargo.

51. If Australian surveyors and ships were able to rely

on the IMCO code as a satisfactory requirement as to how dangerous goods are to be handled in a safe manner, there would be a great saving of expert time which is at present spent on

the determination and presentation of requirements for dangerous goods.

(c) Livestock

52. Somewhat the same considerations apply in relation to

the carriage of livestock. At the present time the Regulations made under the Navigation Act embody elaborate and formal procedures, calling for notice of intention to load and inspection by a surveyor before sailing, with penalties for non-compliance directed at those associated with the ship.

53. While the Commission thinks it would be undesirable

to weaken these procedures because of the importance which should attach to proper carriage of livestock, it believes that the Regulations could be usefully supplemented by the formulation of a code of good practice for the carriage of

livestock. The code could place more emphasis on humane handling of the livestock.

54. It should be possible to formulate such a code in

co-operation with the agricultural authorities, so as to embody the requirements of these authorities, concerned with the welfare and sound conditions of the livestock, and the requirements of the maritime authorities concerned with

arrangements within the ship.

- 9 -

55. It may be possible to lay down desirable provisions

in a code sufficiently clearly so that ships which were known to be satisfactory could be deemed approved ships. Approval would be determined by inspection of the ship's structural arrangements for livestock and the ship's past performance as a

livestock carrier. Approved ships would not require detailed inspections before each and every voyage.

56. Again, as with dangerous goods, if a flexible code

of this kind could be developed in place of strict procedures under the Regulations, it would free the experts concerned from formal duties under the Regulations and enable them to devote more time to preventive measures and proper education of those concerned with the carriage of livestock.


(a) Welfare and conditions of employment

57. Many aspects of the welfare and conditions of

employment of seafarers come under the control of the Department of Transport. These provisions occupy a large part of the Navigation Act, and are discussed in detail in the Report on Australian Maritime Legislation. They are mentioned here because

there is a specific organisation, consisting of the Mercantile Marine Offices, within the Department to carry out its tasks in connection with the welfare and conditions of employment of seafarers.

58. Each Mercantile Marine Office is a small clerical

unit and these offices are located at the main Australian ports. Each office is under the control of a Mercantile Marine Superintendent who is concerned to see that all the regulatory requirements of the Navigation Act and Regulations made under

that Act in respect of the welfare and employment of seafarers are complied with.

59. The work of the Mercantile Marine Offices ranges from

routine clerical tasks performed each time the ship enters and leaves port and each time a man joins or leaves a ship, to tasks

performed rarely but of great personal responsibility for the Mercantile Marine Superintendent e.g. an inquiry into circumstances in which a man has been killed or injured at sea.

60. It is important to recognise that the Superintendents

provide a service to the Australian maritime industry which helps to reduce frictions. In a somewhat informal way, Superintendents are able to settle potential disputes, for example between a man and the employing company in relation to his wages. The informal intervention of the Superintendents in matters of this kind is very valuable in averting problems which might otherwise build into serious industrial


- 10 -

61. The value of these tasks for the smooth working of

the industry . is not always in proportion to the frequency with which they are done. The experience and skill of the

Superintendents in settling personal problems for men at sea has become an integral part of how the industry operates in Australian conditions.

62. It is proposed in the Report on Australian Maritime

Legislation to modernise the employment and welfare area of the l e gislation to a very great extent . One consequence of the ways

in which the Navigation Act should be changed will be that many of the formal functions, and hence routine clerical tasks, now carried out by the Mercantile Marine Offices will be either a bolished or greatly simplified.

63. However, these changes increase the areas of personal

responsibility and initiative for the Mercantile Marine Superintendents, by replacing old fashioned procedures with a responsibility to intervene where required in more difficult situations. These changes will increase the scope for the Mercantile Marine Superintendents to act usefully as informal

administrators of the welfare of ships' crews. Indeed it may prove necessary to establish additional offices at ports where Mercantile Marine Superintendents are not at present located.

64. The main functions carried out by the Mercantile

Marine Offices at present, with comments on these functions, are set out below.

(b) General register of seamen

65. A general register of seamen, as required by the

Navigation Act, is kept by the head office section of the Department of Transport concerned with mercantile marine matters.

66. Each Mercantile Marine Office in each Australian port

maintains records which are fed into the central office to build up changes in the register. The register is a continuing

record of those engaged on Australian ships and records such matters as when a man begins work on a ship, when he leaves

that ship, when he has been absent from the ship without permission, and other movements of crew in relation to particular ships.

67. The register is thus a continuing bank of employment

statistics for the industry, and as such, a necessary repository of information about the size and composition of the maritime work force.

68. In more recent years the register has been augmented

by the records which the Mercantile Marine Offices keep in connection with the engagement systems for certain job categories (discussed immediately below).

- 11 -

69. However, the engagement systems apply only to seamen,

stewards and cooks. Other categories of work at sea do not use

an engagement system. There are also some ships for which engagement systems are not used. Consequently the formal requirement to have a general register should be maintained. Should engagement systems be expanded so as to cover all work categories on all Australian ships, then clearly the two information requirements of maintaining a general register and the records for the engagement systems should be rationalised.

(c) Engagement systems

70. In 1964 the Maritime Industry Sea-going Award

introduced an engagement system for seamen. This system has since been expanded to include also cooks and stewards.

71. The system, which provides for orderly employment of

men on Australian ships and allots a priority of choice of vacant jobs to men in the order in which they have offered for

employment, was developed jointly by the shipowners and the maritime unions as a result of industrial negotiations between them in the context of the Award.

72. This system is administered by the Mercantile Marine

Offices in each port. The Offices keep the necessary records of men offering for employment. The Mercantile Marine Superintendents and their staff supervise the daily operations of the engagement centres at which seamen, cooks ' and stewards offer themselves for work on ships needing additional crew.

73. In addition to the clerical routines necessary to

make a system of this kind functional, the Superintendents sort out the small frictions and daily problems which are involved where men are expressing preferences for work on a particular ship, and where each man has a particular priority of choice,

and so on.

74. The Commission does not propose that there should be

any fundamental change in the role of the Mercantile Marine Offices in connection with the engagement system. The provisions of the engagement system have been negotiated between employers and unions. The system needs supervision by a third party to make it work smoothly, and the Commission thinks that

this is entirely a proper task for the Mercantile Marine Offices to carry out.

(d) Engagement and discharge of seamen

75. The operation of the engagement systems, described

above, has been superimposed on the traditional legal requirements that men sign on and off ships in the presence of the Marine Superintendent. These requirements had as their origin the fact that seamen at one time were not always

literate, and the system was devised many years ago as a

- 12 -

protection for men who may not have fully understood either the basis on whith they were joining a ship, or what was due to them

when they were discharged from a ship. This subject is

discussed more fully in the Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation. It is recommended in that report that these traditional procedures have lost their point and that there is no need for the formal presence of a representative

from the Mercantile Marine Office when men are joining or leaving ships unless either party, i.e. the employer or the employee, specifically requests that the superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office supervise the process.

76. Dispensing with these signing on and signing off

requirements will be of considerable convenience to seamen and to their employers, because it will save them the tedious task of attending a Mercantile Marine Office on their way to or from a ship just to go through a formal clerical ceremony.

(e) Crew List

77. It will remain an administrative responsibility of the

Mercantile Marine Office to satisfy itself that each ship sails with the required crew. Whereas in the past the Mercantile Marine Office was able to use the agreement as the basic evidence that the proper number of men, with the requisite

qualifications, were on board, the Office will now rely instead on the Crew List provided by the Master at the time of sailing.

It will be necessary obviously that the Mercantile Marine Office gives this document a more formal scrutiny than it would have necessarily received in the past. (f) Discipline

78. The Commission has proposed considerable changes, in

its Report on Australian Maritime Legislation, in the methods whereby discipline is maintained on board ships. The new system, briefly, does away with the imposition of fines by the Master for certain offences. The imposition of these fines is

to be replaced by warnings, censures and adverse reports. The underlying concept is that when a man has received such a number of warnings, censures or adverse reports as to cast doubt on his fitness to work in a shipboard environment, the Chief Mercantile Marine Officer will put that man's case to the Marine Council

which will decide whether the man should be excluded from the industry. 79 . The responsibility of the Mercantile Marine Offices in

this matter is to be expanded by this proposal. The Chief

Mercantile Marine Officer already has a responsibility to draw instances of men with adverse conduct to the attention of the Marine Council for disciplinary action.

- 13 -

80. However, if the Commission's proposal is accepted and

the past practice of imposition of fines on board ship is replaced by a system of warnings and reports from the Master, the Mercantile Marine Offices may find themselves dealing with a larger number, and more varied type, of problems of unsatisfactory conduct.

(g) Counselling

81. The Commission also proposes that these formal

disciplinary procedures should be supplemented by an informal counselling system. The Commission has in mind that the Mercantile Marine Superintendents in each port should, in consultation with the maritime unions , develop a system to

counsel men whose conduct on board ships might not be satisfactory.

82. Each union should forward to the Marine Superintendent

a confidential panel of names of experienced officials or members of the union who would be willing to a ct as counsellors.

83. If the Mercantile Marine Superintendent felt that a

young man was showing signs of having the wrong approach to his work, or perhaps being in a working environment on a particular ship that did not suit his temperament, or had a series of small

misdemeanours, the Mercantile Marine Superintendent might arrange with one of the counsellors from the man's union to discuss his problems. The purpose of this would be

to correct the situation before it became serious enough to have adverse affects on the man's work prospects.

84. It would be desirable that these proceedings be

completely informal and that they be in confidence between the man, the counsellor, and the Mercantile Marine Superintendent.

85. The Commission believes that the introduction of a

procedure of this kind would enable the Mercantile Marine Superintendents to help men to adapt to the peculiar, and at times trying, work situations at sea.

(h) Cadets and apprentices

86. At the present time the Mercantile Marine Office

Superintendents have a limited responsibility in respect of apprentices. The Superintendents are required by the Navigation Act only to see that indentures entered into by apprentices a re in accordance with the prescribed form.

87. This question is discussed at more length in the

Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation. It is proposed there that the concept of apprenticeship as embodied in the Na vigation Act is both out of date and incomplete. By

far the greatest number of young men who go to sea in an

employment situation like that of an apprentice are engaged as

- 14 -

cadets by the Company which owns the ship on which they are employed. The Commission proposes that the distinction between apprentices and cadets should be lost, that in future the employment of these young men in training at sea should be

integrated with their formal training at the College and that the Superintendents should take on a role of looking after the welfare of these young men.

(i) Seamen's wages 88. The Commission's Report on Australian Maritime

Legislation sets out the legal responsibilities and powers which are exercised by the Mercantile Marine Superintendents in relation to seamen's wages.

89. From an administrative viewpoint, the central

provision as regards work at Mercantile Marine Offices in relation to seamen's wages is the requirement that before a seamen is discharged, he shall be paid his wages in the presence of a responsible official (e.g. the Mercantile Marine

Superintendent). The Commission has proposed in its Report on Australian Maritime Legislation that this traditional requirement is unnecessary and out of date under modern conditions. The Commission has recommended that instead there

should be a provision whereby wages may be paid in a way agreed between the employer and the employee, and any dispute as to the amount of wages could be referred to the Mercantile Marine Office Superintendent.

90. The administrative work load would be reduced in

consequence. A large amount of time taken up now with the formalities of paying wages in front of the Superintendents would be saved.

(j) Provisions 91. The Commission's Report on Australian Maritime

Legis lation proposes to modernise and greatly simplify sections of the Navigation Act which relate to the quality of food and water on ships and complaints about them.

92. A simplified system would however still use the

Superintendent as a man to whom complaints can be made, should they arise, about food and water. Here again the Commission is envisaging retaining the useful role of the Superintendents as informal settlers of low key disputes.

(k) Welfare of seamen

93. The Navigation Act at present contains a number of

specific provisions designed for a seaman's welfare, partly on the traditional ground that he may not have understood the basis of his employment on the ship, partly because being away at sea, or away from his home port, he was traditionally thought of as

- 15 -

needing assistance. These provisions relate to such matters as protecting a man who has been left behind by his ship in relation to payment of his wages and safeguarding his personal effects, protecting seamen from "unscrupulous" lodging housekeepers,

safeguarding the property and personal effects of deceased seamen, seeing that wages due to a seaman lost with his ship are

duly paid to his heirs and so on.

94. Administratively, these various provisions of the

Navigation Act place the Mercantile Marine Superintendent in the position of being responsible for the welfare of the seamen or his family in circumstances where he was thought to need some official help.

95. The Commission's proposals in its Report on Australian

Maritime Legislation modernise these various provisions and greatly simplify the formalised legalities which the welfare tradition has caused to be written into the Navigation Act. 96. However, it still seems necessary to provide that

seamen may look to an authority to safeguard their interests in difficult circumstances, although in a much simplified legal framework. The Mercantile Marine Superintendents should continue to fill this role.

(1) Competence of seafarers

97. The Department of Transport administers the

Regulations which set the standards for the Certificates of Competency of deck officers and marine engineers for Australian ships. This is done by the Examining Section of the Department. The examiners do not teach candidates for the Certificates of Competency at the present time, candidates either attend courses at technical institutions, or proceed by private study. The Examining Section however approves the syllabuses to which the candidates are taught and candidates to see whether they

are proficient in the subjects before issuing them with a Certificate of Competency. 98. This Commission has already presented its Report on

training requirements for sea-going personnel. When the Commission's proposals for the establishment of the Marine College (already approved by the Government) are implemented, it should be possible to phase out the present system of Departmental examining. The Department should be able, as the College gets under way, to leave to the College the tasks of

training the men and of examining them.

99. The Commission proposes on this in its Report

on Australian Maritime that the Certificate of

Competency system will be replaced as a consequence of the operation of the College. It is proposed in that report that in

place of a Certificate of Competency issued by the Department there should be a diploma and a licence. The diploma, or

- 16 -

similar academic qualification, would be obtained from the College as a certification of the man's technical proficiency . The legal approval for him to serve on a ship at a particular

level would be provided by a licence issued by t he Department. Issue of these licences would be determined by questions of the man's conduct, habits, past performance at sea, rather than his technical knowledge of the subject .

100. The Commission also proposed in its Report on training

requirements for sea-going personnel that the prov1sion of formal training and of diplomas or other certification of proficiency in the subjects, should be extended to all categories of work at sea, i . e. including seamen, cooks,

stewards, as well as the categories which at present have some formal system of training and certification . In respect of new technical qualifications to be available to men for these work categories, the Commission proposes that the same two-tier

concept of a certification of technical proficiency, and a separate licence to serve on a ship, should be established.

101 . The question consequently arises in the administrative

context of the present report of who should be responsible for the issue of licences to serve on ships, as distinct from the

technical proficiency qualifications which will be provided by the College . The Commission thinks that it is appropriate for officials to be authorised to issue these licences. 102. The Commission does not think however that it should

be necessary to use men with the background which the staff of Examining Sections have. Examiners at the present

time are highly qualified mariners or highly qualified marine engineers, and it is necessary that they possess either the Extra Master's Certificate or the Extra Firs t Class Engineer's Certificate to qualify to be examiners. The skills which these

men have to be examiners are inherently technical and in the future the Commission would expect that the question of technical proficiency would be entirely settled by the College.

103 . The Commission considers therefore that the Mercantile

Marine Offices should be the authorities to consider and decide (subject to appeals, as set out in the Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation) whether men should be licensed to serve in ships in a particular work category.

104. There will also be provision for the removal of a

licence to serve, as a consequence of certain forms of undesirable behaviour or inefficient performance at work. This matter is dealt with also in the Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation. It would be a common sense

arrangement that the Mercantile Marine Office, by virtue of its other involvements in the process of joining and leaving ships, should also be the agent to whom the cancelled or suspended licence is delivered.

- 17 -

(m) Mercantile Marine Offices - Summary

105. The Commission is thus proposing that the Department's

direct personal contacts with men working in Australian ships, in terms of their conduct as well as their welfare and their

conditions of employment, could all be brought into the Mercantile Marine Offices. The Commission believes that adding these additional responsibilities into the Mercantile Marine Offices, but also removing from the work of the offices a great

deal of the routine procedures carried out at the present time, will enable the offices to become an even more useful agency to bring about the most productive working attitudes and relationships within the sea-going part of the industry.

106. What the Commission is proposing would lift the level

of work and increase the personal responsibility of the Mercantile Marine Superintendents themselves.

107. Hitherto these men have mainly been clerical officers

who have built up a great deal of experience by working in the Mercantile Marine Offices. The Department may decide in implementing the total package of the Commission's proposals that some of the very valuable sea-going experience which marine

surveyors and Departmental examiners now possess could be usefully brought into the Mercantile Marine Office function.

(n) Manning

108. Dealing further with the welfare and competence of

seafarers, there are certain other matters to mention. The first of these is manning. The system whereby manning scales for many Australian ships are now decided as a result of Manning Committee consideration and recommendation to the Minister for Transport is discussed in some detail in the

Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation.

109. The proposals for some changes in the legal framework

in respect of manning requirements set out in that report do not however call for significant administrative changes within the Department. It would continue to be appropriate that an officer of the Department with the right technical background and experience be the Chairman of each Manning Committee. It would continue to be the day to day responsibility of the Mercantile Marine Office to see that the ship did not go to sea

without the legally required manning.

(o) Marine Council

110. A Marine Council has been established under the

Navigation Act to advise the Minister for Transport. The council is made up of four members representing Australian shipowners, and four representing the maritime unions, under the chairmanship of a Departmental officer (usually the Nautical Adviser).

- 18 -

111 . This Council is available to advise the Minister on

any matter which the Minister may refer to it for advice. The

Council ' s main task in practice has been to consider, and decide, disciplinary matters concerned with whether men should be "excluded from the industry" (i.e. not permitted to be employed on an Australian ship) because of a record of breaches of discipline while employed on Australian ships .

112. The Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation proposes important changes in the basis of handling discipline at sea. The role of the Marine Council continues in these proposals, the main change affecting the Council being to provide a right of appeal from its decisions to the

Administrative Tribunal.

113. There are however a number of other matters which call

for a change in the composition of the Marine Council.

114. The first matter relates to the union representatives.

Four union representatives are appointed, and thus not all unions can be directly represented on the Council at any one time . The unions have put forward the view that it is not

s atisfactory to have to rely on other unions when one of their own members is being considered by the Marine Council.

115. The Commission thinks that this is a reasonable point,

but would not propose that the meetings of the Council be a rranged so as to include all unions at all meetings, and an

e qual number of representatives of shipowners. That would make the Council too large and cumbersome.

116. Instead, the Commission proposes that the Chairman of

the Council should be empowered to make up a quorum of members -with balanced union and owner representation - from representatives of each union and an equivalent number of s hipowner representatives. Thus the Chairman would invite

particular members to be part of the quorum for aspects of a particular meeting, based on the matters to be dealt with on the agenda.

117. The Commission proposes a similar procedure for

representation in respect of off-shore supply vessels and seismic survey craft. These craft have practices and procedures which differ from those of large ocean going cargo ships. Representatives from both sides of the off-shore section

of the industry should be added to the membership of the Council. The Chairman should be empowered to make up a quorum from these representatives alone if matters relating to the off - shore section, or the men employed in it, are to be dealt with.

118 . Should other commercial craft, such as fishing boats,

be also brought within the Navigation Act, the same procedure could be applied.

- 19 -

(p) Crew accommodation

119. When a new ship is being built to be operated in

Australian conditions (whether it is being built in Australia or overseas), the Crew Accommodation Committee usually examines the proposed accommodation on board for the crew.

120. This Committee is made up of four members representing

shipowners, and four representing the maritime unions, and is chaired by a Departmental officer. (The Committee is in fact usually made up of the same people as the Marine Council and meetings of both are often held at the same time).

121. The Committee examines the plans of the ship and

settles disputes - guided partly by the requirements of the Regulations (Navigation (Crew Accommodation) Regulations) and partly by arrangements which have been developed as agreed practices in previous discussions between owners and unions.

122. If matters relating to crew accommodation on off-shore

supply vessels and seismic survey craft are to be brought before a Crew Accommodation Committee, it seems desirable to deal with such matters in a separate committee with representation drawn, for both unions and owners, from the off-shore industry.


123. The Department of Transport has certain other

functions in relation to operational and safety matters for ships and their crews in Australian waters. These are described below.

(a) Search and rescue

124. The search and rescue function is carried out by the

Marine Operations Centre, which is located in Canberra.

125. The Australian Government is obliged as a signatory

to the 1960 Safety of Life at Sea Convention to make all

necessary arrangements for the rescue of persons in distress.

126. The Department of Transport through the Marine

Operations Centre is the arm of the Australian Government responsible for co-ordinating marine search and rescue for Australian and international vessels in the Australian area.

- 20 -

127. Search and rescue for all vessels within ports and

for many fishing vessels and pleasure boats and for people from such vessels tends to remain as a task of the Australian State authorities. The Marine Operations Centre usually takes over responsibility for searches in outside waters or other actions which a State authority refers to the Centre.

128. The Marine Operations Centre operates a 24 hour

service and is staffed by people with maritime experience and special training for the co-ordination of marine search and rescue. Thus the Marine Operations Centre calls on the search resources of ships on the high seas, the Navy, the Air Force,

police, voluntary organisations, lighthouse keepers, and others whose resources can be brought to bear on the area where the casualty or the survivors from it are believed to be.

(b) Inquiries into casualties

129. The Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation deals with the legislation relating to inquiries into marine casualties. That report proposes changes in the system.

130. In the past the special maritime knowledge of the

Department's surveyors and nautical advisers has been extensively called upon in connection with these inquiries. These experts investigate casualties in an informal and preliminary manner. Where the circumstances of the casualty

appear to require a more formal inquiry, these officers assist that inquiry in various ways throughout its course. Some aspects of these matters are discussed in more detail later in this report.

(c) Wreck

131. The Department of Transport also exercises powers

of the Commonwealth Government in respect of wreck on or near the Australian coast. The legal aspects of this question also form a section of the Report on Australian Maritime Legislation and proposals to change aspects of the provisions

are dealt with in that Report.

132. In terms of administrative and organisational

arrangements, it is to be noted that in the past officers of

the Department of Transport have administered the powers provided in the Navigation Act concerning wreck.

21 -

(d) Marine Pollution

133. In recent years more attention has been given to

problems of pollution in relation to Australian waters and the Australian sea bed. International Conventions in relation to the prevention of pollution of the sea by oil are administered in Australian conditions by the Department of Transport, working in co-operation with State authorities.

134. This is a special area, with new technology, and

where new administrative arrangements have had to be made so as to evolve the National Plan whereby risks of pollution of the sea are dealt with quickly, effectively and flexibly.

135. The work has been approached co-operatively between the Australian and State Governments and the oil industry, with stockpiles of dispersants and equipment located around the Australian coast.

(e) Traffic controls

136 . It has been found necessary in recent years to

develop more elaborate traffic controls than were previously considered necessary in the comparatively uncrowded sea lanes around Australia. A special passing zone has been es tablished in Bass Strait, off Wilson's Promontory, whereby ships sailing

in opposite directions are required to take tracks which keep them apart, to minimise risks of collision. ·

137. Traffic controls of this kind are extensively used

in more crowded waters elsewhere in the world, such as the Engl ish Channel. It could be expected that Australia will find the need to make more arrangements of this kind in other Australian waters, for example, Torres Strait.

(f) Ship reporting

138. Another aspect has been the introduction of a ship

reporting system. Essentially, it consists of procedures whereby vessels inform the Marine Operations Centre of the route they intend to take and keep the Centre informed each day of their present position. It could be expected that requirements of this kind will be found to b e more and more


- 2 2 -


(a) Proposal

139. At the present time Australian ships are in law

British ships, and there is no Australian legislation covering the registration of ships.

140. The Commission proposes that an Australian register

of Australian ships should be established. It is long overdue that Australia should fix the conditions under which ships should fly its flag.

141. The legal requirements proposed for the establishment

of an Australian register are discussed in the Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation. The present report comments on some administrative aspects of the establishment of the register.

(b) Administration

142. In the past the task of maintaining the Australian

sections of the British register at each Australian port where snips are registered has been carried out by customs officers of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, acting as authorised agents of the British Government.

143. The Commission proposes that the administration of the

Australian register should be placed within the field of the Department of Transport, as the natural place to locate Australian Government functions concerned with the Australian maritime industry.

144. There has been excellent co-operation between customs officers and transport officers in their daily administration of many aspects of the movement of ships and cargo through Australian ports for many years. The Commission has no doubt

that this will continue and smooth out any

problems of the transition from the British register to an Australian register.

145. The Commission proposes that the Australian system

should consist of a central registry and ports of registry. Application for registry would be made at the port of registry preferred by the owner of the ship. Any records kept at the

port of registry would however not be the official register. Entries in the central registry would be the official entries, constituting the evidence of legal title to the ship.

- 23 -

146. The Commission would envisage that the central register

would need to be staffed by officers specially trained in this work. However the Commission would expect that the initial work of receiving applications at ports of registry could be carried out effectively by Mercantile Marine Office staff at the ports.

It should also be possible for arrangements to be made so that customs officers would act as agents for the Australian register, should it be necessary to establish port of registry facilities at ports where there is no Mercantile Marine Office.

(c) Scope of register

147. The Commission proposes that Australian owners of

s hips a nd other owners with a close connection with Australia may register their ships in the Australian register. (This point is dealt with more fully in the Report on Australian Maritime Legislation).

148. The register should be directed towards commercial

ships. However, some owners of pleasure craft may like to enjoy the status of having their ships officially registered. To accommodate these people, but avoid the very large clerical task that would be created if it was necessary to register all the particulars required by the register in relation to a great ma ny small pleasure craft, the Commission proposes that the

register should be set up in two parts.

149. The first part, which could be known as the "full

register", should apply to ships ove r a given length engaged in commercial a ctivities . ( For illustrative purposes, the Commission will use a len g th of 10 metres in this report, but

the precise cut o ff point that would have the best practical value should be discus sed specifically between responsible officials of Commonwealth and State maritime administrations when the register is being brought into practical implementation).

150. For commercial vessels over say 10 metres in length, it

would be obligatory to register the For commercial vessels

less than say 10 metres in length, registry would be voluntary. These two categories together would make up the "full register".

151. At the request of the owners pleasure craft of any

length may be registered. Entries relating to these craft will make up the second part of the register, which could be known as a "flag register".

152. The full register would contain technical details of

the ship's size and construction, records of ownership, including mortgages notified to the register, the name of the Master, and other de t ails making u p the full history of the ship. The f lag

register need record only such matters as t he name of the craft, an approximate size and general description of the craft sufficient to identify it, and the owner who has registered it.

- 24 -

153. There remains the question of how fishing boats should

be dealt with in the register.

154. The Commission does not propose that it be compulsory

to register fishing boats in the Commonwealth registry. Many fishing boats around the Australian coast do not leave close Australian waters and do not look for the flag protection of registration. Many of these boats do not change ownership

frequently. Since such boats would not gain a great deal from registration, it seems unnecessary to make Commonwealth regis­ tration obligatory for fishing boats. (Some State Governments already require certain forms of registration or licensing for

fishing boats, and some for pleasure craft).

155. On the other hand, more sophisticated methods of

fishing are producing larger and more valuable craft, capable of operating in an ocean going way, and capable of being sold to a wide range of potential markets, or used for a variety of

other purposes outside the fishing season.

156. Such craft for example can be chartered overseas for

months at a time for use in seismic survey work, off-shore oil ri g supply work, or other ocean going activities which take advantage of the size and power of the boat.

157. The Commission would expect that many owners of

vessels of this kind would want to have the advantages of registering their boats, as clear evidence that they are Australian boats and as clear evidence of title for purposes of selling the boat or borrowing money against it .

158. The Commission proposes therefore that full registration of fishing boats (within the same tests of Australian ownership or close association with Australia as apply elsewhere in the r egister) s hould be voluntary.


159. As discussed in this Commission's Report on Australian

Maritime Legislation, the coasting trade provisions of the Nav i gation Act require that the carriage of coastal passengers and cargo be undertaken only by licensed vessels. Vessels which comply with Australian aw a rd rates of pay and manning, may be

licensed. The Navigation Act reco gni s es that at times licensed vessels may not be a vailabl e for the needs of the coasting trade. In such circumstances, the Act provides for unlicensed vessels to carry coastal cargo or passenge rs under single voyage permits

or under continuing permits (although continuing permits are no t often granted) .

- 25 -

160. Strict control is exercised over the issue of permits

for carriage of coastal cargoes by non-Australian vessels. Each application for the use of a non-licensed vessel is considered individually and is approved only if no suitable licensed vessel is available and there are no suitable alternative means of transporting the cargo.

161. The coasting trade policy is one of the most important

and sensitive matters, of large commercial relevance to ship­ owners, and of large economic significance for the cargoes being shipped around the coast.


162. At the beginning of this report there was brief mention

of the possibility of changes in the scope of Commonwealth juris­ diction in respect of maritime safety of ships and other craft operating in Australian waters.

163. The question of the extent of Commonwealth jurisdiction

has of course legal overtones - concerned with interpretations of Australian constitutional law. It should be noted that there could be large administrative implications for maritime safety standards and controls if the Commonwealth's jurisdiction was enlarged to include more ships, other sea-going craft, or surveillance of larger areas.

164. Present Commonwealth standards and controls are designed to apply essentially to cargo and passenger ships which are engaged in interstate and overseas trade and commerce.

165. Many parts of the standards set would not be approp-

riate for smaller types of ships or for other craft. For

example, a great deal of the present standards would not be suitable for fishing boats, or for pleasure craft . 166. Each Australian State has gone a certain distance

towards standards and controls for fishing boats, and for pleasure craft. In the past, each State has naturally tended to evolve its own standards based on conditions which the State ' s maritime safety authorities judged appropriate for conditions in the waters of that State. In recent years a lot of work has been

done towards making these standards and controls uniform, through committees of State and Commonwealth experts working under the aegis of the Association of Australian Port and Marine Authorities (AAPMA) .

- 26 -

167. The Commission has noted in this connection the Joint

Statement by t ·he Commonwealth and State Ministers at the Marine and Ports Council of Australia meeting in Hobart on May 28. The statement contained the following in relation t o ship safety control:

"The Marine Safety Authorities of the States and the Commonwealth will have further early conferences of expert s to es t ablish co-operatively the way in which law should be framed for safety

control of various classes of ships.

Directions were given to these authorities by the Marine and Ports Council. Endeavours will be made in the interests of operators of vessels to verify the standards for safety with proper

regard as necessary for special local conditions.

Meetings will commence very soon, and Ministers expressed the hope that u seful legislative and administrative arrangements will follow progressively."

- 2 7 -


168. The Commission concluded in its Report on

Navigational aid systems that a Coastal Services Authority should be set up as a statutory authority. The Commission said in that Report:

"51. When the basic policy considerations that govern the /navigation aids/ program have been formulated, the detailed working out of that program and putting it into practice are

inherently technical tasks, although complicated and calling for a great deal of knowledge and effort. It seems to the Commission that, where operational tasks are inherently technical and do not become deeply involved in frequent advice

to the Minister on high policy matters, the carrying out of these operational tasks can be done more efficiently if they are fitted into a specialised, streamlined unit.

52. The Commission believes that there are a number of operational tasks in the maritime area where more efficient operation would be obtained by separating them from the policy department. The Commission sees handling o£ navigation aids as falling into this category.

In addition it would encompass ship surveys, search for ships lost at sea and marine pollution controls." 169. The Commission holds to that conclusion after more

detailed study of these tasks. These tasks each call for technical maritime experience with administrative experience superimposed. Bringing the tasks together within a single technical organisation would create a pool of knowledge which would give the officers concerned in each task access to the widest technical experience in maritime matters.

170. The Commission considers also that a Coastal Services

Authority could develop a most useful role to assist customs and Australian fishing administrations in respect of coastal surveillance for civilian purposes. 171. The Commission considers the question of surveillance

to be outside its terms of reference, but it is clear that the

task of using surveillance to prevent illegal importation of drugs into Australia and of protecting our fishing rights from foreign intrusions are matters of the highest national importance. The Commission would envisage that the ships, and possibly aircraft, which a Coastal Services Authority would need to carry out its maritime tasks could be a very effective

arm of customs - operating under customs direction in respect


of customs matters - to increase and improve coastal surveillance particularly of our northern waters. The authority's value in this area would be partly to take full advantage of its equipment a nd partly to use the sea-going experience and knowledge of its

people to help customs in their preventive responsibilities.

172. The Commission would not propose that the Department

should reduce its policy role. Practical day to day tasks at present within the Department's responsibilities would be given to the Coastal Services Authority. The Department would remain the Minister's adviser on policy matters. The Authority would

carry out its practical tasks within guide lines laid down, with the Minister's authority , to the extent necessary. The Department would have a general oversight of the Authority's work as part of its task of advising the Minister.

173. The Commission's approach therefore in the remainder o f this report is to comment on the practical aspects of each

task it is believed could be placed within the Coastal Services Authority , Comments are also made on the administration of the continuing policy functions of the Department of Transport.


174. As the Commission indicated in its Report on

navigational aid systems, it considers that navigational aids should be handled by the Coastal Services Authority.

175. The Commission also proposed that the Authority should

have the advice of a Navaids Advisory Council to review the program for the provision of navaids and to assist the Authority in developing detailed forward plans for navaids.

176. The Commission contemplates that this Council would be chaired by a .senior man from the Department of Transport. From the knowledge gained from this arrangement, the Department would be in a position to advise the Minister on matters of

broad policy in respect of navigational aids.


(a) Setting of standards

177. The Department's responsibilities for advice to the

Minister should continue to include responsibility for the general level of safety standards to be applied to Australian ships and their equipment.

178. The Department should continue to take the lead in

Australian participation in the work of IMCO, and in advising the Minister whether Australia should support new international Conventions when they result from IMCO's work.


179. However, there would be many areas of technical study

within IMCO's committees and sub-committees where the detailed expertise necessary to take a worthwhile part in the work would come from technical experts from the proposed Coastal Services Authority.

180. Changes in standards for ship construction and ship

equipment came also from changes in the technology of the design of ships and of their equipment.

181. This kind of development tends to be initiated by the

commercial shipyard and ship designer. To the extent that the Australian Shipbuilding Board maintains the design capability which it has had in the past the Board could make a major

contribution to the knowledge necessary to make this kind of revision of standards; but in practice a great many of the

technological changes will more likely have come from overseas developments.

182. Summing up, the Commission would envisage that the

broad responsibility for the level of standards of safety to be set for ship construction and ship equipment would be the responsibility of the Department. In the future, however, continuous evaluation and the detailed implementation of new standards should fall mainly on the proposed Coastal Services Authority.

(b) Administering controls

183. Having looked at who should set the standards, the

question then arises of who should administer the controls to see that these standards are observed. This should be the continuing day to day function of the Coastal Services Authority. This Commission would envisage that the regional surveying staffs at present in the Department should become part of the Coastal Services Authority. As such, they would undertake such matters as the necessary surveys and inspections in respect of

new ships coming into the Australian fleet; the periodic surveys of ships and equipment to see that they are still up

to the standards; inspections of foreign ships, and safety control of the handling of particular cargoes and the operation of particular kinds of gear on ships.


(a) Welfare

184. As indicated earlier in this report, the Commission's

Report on Australian Maritime Legislation proposes a much less formal system to safeguard the welfare and conditions of employment of men at sea. The Commission proposes in that report that a great many of the aspects of conditions of employment or of welfare which are now the subject of detailed


legislation and detailed clerical administration within the Mercantile Marine Office of the Department, should be replaced by a much broader Departmental supervision of contracts agreed industrially between owners and unions.

185. It is also proposed earlier in this report that an

Australian Register of Ships should be established. Maintaining this Register involves a new administrative task. Work processing applications for registration at the ports of registry could be done by officers employed in the Mercantile Marine


186. The Commission proposes that the Mercantile Marine

Offices become part of the Coastal Services Authority. This would ensure that the authority is involved in the day to day

administration of all the standards and controls over the industry. It would mean that all the Governmental maritime administrative services which ships and their crews draw on by direct contact would be contained in the one organisation, and could be located conveniently in offices in the ports themselves.

It would make it possible to separate the day to day work and

policy matters in those areas where it is especially desirable to separate them.

(b) Competence

187· The Commission has proposed in its Report on training

requirements for sea-going personnel that virtually all of the functions of approval of syllabuses and of examining of men as to their competence which are now done within the Department of Transport, should pass to the proposed training college.

188. The Commission would not see any need for the Coastal

Services Authority to be involved in this work. Should there be a need, for example during the first years of development of the College, for supervision in a policy sense of the standard of training being provided by the college, the Commission believes

that this responsibility should remain with the Department. 189. There will also be a transition period, after the

establishment of the college, during which two systems of competency qualifications will be operating. Men who have already began their training under the old system will wish to continue in that sequence. New entrants will begin with the

college and remain with it. The Commission would think that the most practical way of handling this transition period would be for the administration of the old system of certification to be carried out where it is now, i.e. with the Examining Section of

the Department.


(c) Manning, Marine Council and crew accommodation

190. These matters are grouped in this report's context of

administrative implications because they each involve the same kind of issues.

191. The minimum manning of a ship is in one sense a safety

matter but it is also often an industrial issue between unions and owners. The Marine Council is concerned in practice with individual cases of discipline (as explained earlier in this report) but its work can touch wider issues of a crew's welfare, and industrial matters. Crew accommodation is on the face of it a welfare matter, but differences about standards of accommodation for the crew can have industrial consequences.


192· I The Commission considers that the work of the officials

handling and servicing these matters would be best done by the Department. Each matter is dealt with by a "committee" and each committee is made up of equal numbers of representatives from owners and unions. The functions of the officials involved are

to chair the committee and to provide secretarial services to it. In each case also the recommendations that flow from the committee are submitted to the Minister, with Departmental advice.

193. The matters dealt with in each of these tasks could be

handled by the Coastal Services Authority, but it ' would be cumbersome for recommendations to then be transmitted to the Department so that advice could then go forward with the recommendations to the Minister.

194. The Commission proposes therefore that these matters be left with the Department, rather than given to the Coastal Services Authority. Dealing with these matters will also provide a useful opportunity to stay in touch with day to day

operating conditions in the industry and thus will help the Department to remain informed.

195. There may however be instances where the point being

argued, for example, in the context of manning a ship or how to

locate crew cabins within a new ship, calls for technical expertise from the Coastal Services Authority. In that event, it seems to the Commission to be a simple matter for the

appropriate expert from the Authority to be co-opted as an adviser to the committee.


196 Several functions which are part of the operating

framework within which ships work at sea in Australian waters were discussed above. The Commission indicates below which of these functions could move to the Coastal Services Authority.


(a) Search and rescue

197. The Commission thinks that the entire search and

rescue function administered by the Marine Operations Centre should become part of the Coastal Services Authority. The Commission regards the operation of the Marine Operations Centre as a very good development and believes that the Centre

is working well and effectively. The Commission sees considerable benefits of shared experience from integrating the knowledge of those in the Marine Operations Centre with the other functions being placed with the Coastal Services Authority.

(b) Pollution

198. The Commission proposes also that the administration of environmental controls directed to avoiding pollution of the sea by oil , should become part of the Coastal Services Authority. The practical implementation of the necessary controls

a nd the pollution dispersion services to be provided would be better placed with the Coastal Services Authority. The Authority could best control the equipment and deploy ships used in connection with the work .

199 . Of course , where policy questions for Government

consideration become involved , the Department would handle the question. For example , questions of special financial provision for new stockpiles of dispersant will arise from time to time. Similarly , there could be policy questions involved in the

financial or the operating relationships between Commonwealth and State Governments . Such matters are policy questions, on which the Minister would no doubt look to the Department for advice.

(c) Inquiries into casualties

200 . The Commission has proposed changes in legal aspects

of the system whereby casualties are investigated, and whereby, as a consequence of the investigation, officers' certificates of competency may be removed or suspended . (Dealt with in the Report on Australian Maritime Legislation).

201. Where the new system requires action by officials it

is necessary to indicate whether they should be officers of the Department of Transport or of the Coastal Services Authority.

202 . The elements of the new system, for administrative

purposes , are briefly as follows :

There should be, as there is now, a preliminary investigation of the casualty.

Where the preliminary investigation i s to be followed by a formal inquiry (by the "Maritime


Inquiry Commission") in future such inquiries should be confined to finding the facts and causes of the casualty. The inquiry should not impose penalties.

Where penalties are to be imposed, i.e. suspension or cancellation of a man's "licence to serve" (in place of the present "certificate of competency") the decision to impose the penalty should be made by an official authorised to make the decision by a delegation from the Minister for Transport.

There should be an appeal available against the decision.

203 The preliminary investigations should be carried out

by officers of the Department of Transport, not the Coastal Services Authority. Where officers are required to assist the Maritime Inquiry Commission, they should be officers of the Department. If the Coastal Services Authority is required to

appear before the Inquiry Commission, it should appear as an expert witness, external to the conduct of the inquiry.

204. The Commission makes these proposals because it would

be very probable that the operating controls over the ships involved in the casualty would have been exercised by the Coastal Services Authority. In a situation where the Maritime Inquiry Commission might question whether the standards or controls were adequate to avoid the casualty, it would be better if the Inquiry and its advisers were completely

independent of the organisation exercising those controls. That would be achieved by leaving the task of advising the Inquiry with the Department, if the Coastal Services Authority has the operating responsibilities being proposed for it.

205. For similar reasons, the Commission proposes that the

power to impose the penalty of suspending or removing a man's "licence to serve" should be exercised by an officer of the Department. The Commission envisages that the licence would have been issued by the Mercantile Marine Office, which the Commission would prefer to see located within the Coastal Services Authority. On that basis, it would be best if the

power to remove the licence was placed in other hands. However, to make the administrative machinery function properly, the actual suspension or removal of the licence, and the recording of the suspension for crew list purposes, should be done by

the Mercantile Marine Office.


(d) Wreck

206· At the present time, the Regional Offices of the

Department of Transport administer Commonwealth responsibilities for wrecks .

207 It seems to the Commission that the practical

administration of the new proposals would be best placed in the hands of the proposed Coastal Services Authority, because of its day to day knowledge, and its staff located at offices

around the Australian coast.

208. Clearly however, where complex matters of law, or

important issues of ownership of wreck (for example historic wreck) become involved and call for Government attention, it would be the responsibility of the Department to advise the Government, leaving the Coastal Services Authority to

administer what was decided should be the policy in the particular case. (e) Coasting trade

2 09. As was indicated earlier in this report, the

investigation of applications for licences to engage in the coasting trade or for permits to engage in that trade can involve sensitive commercial implications for shipowners and potential industrial consequences because of the position of Australian maritime and waterfront unions. Consequently,

there can be sensitive policy questions on which the Minister of Transport has to be advised by those investigating the applications. 210. This work is clearly of a policy nature, and should

be handled by the Department .

211 . However there are, as described in the Commission's

Report on Australian Maritime Legislation, various legal requirements as regards the manning of ships and conditions of employment in those ships by virtue of the ships being licensed to engage in the coasting trade. The Commission would propose that the administrative task, of supervising that the manning of ships and other conditions of employment on the ships

meet the requirements, should remain with the Mercantile Marine Office, where these tasks are located at present.



(1) A Coastal Services Authority, recommended in the Commission's Report on Navigational Aid Systems, should be established to handle oper­ ational aspects of standards and controls over the Australian maritime industry.

(2) The Commission considers that this Authority should handle the practical aspects of the following functions -

navigational aids

ship surveys and other safety controls

mercantile marine office functions

search and rescue and the Marine Operations Centre

marine pollution controls


assist with coastal surveillance for customs and fishing.

(3) In addition, the Australian register of ships,

recommended in the Commission's Report on Australian Maritime Legislation, should be administered by the Authority.

(4) The Department of Transport should continue to give advice to the Government on policies and other aspects of standards and controls over the Australian maritime industry.

(5) Safety codes should be developed to supplement the Navigation Act and Regulations made under

(6) A counselling system for men with work problems should be developed with the maritime unions.



in respect of the four reports

presented in June 1976

In its three previous reports the Commission has listed parties who have assisted the Commission with written submissions or discussions in respect of the subject of the report .

Because of the wide nature of the subjects of this last group of four reports, the Commission has drawn generally on all submissions and information which it has received throughout the inquiry. It would be repetitious to list particular parties in

respect of each of these reports.

The Commission gratefully acknowledges the help which has been provided to it by way of

submissions and discussions on many aspects of the facts and the views dealt with in these reports.



In its ' Report on training requirements for sea- going personnel' of May 1974 the Commission said that it would examine the question of training for personnel other than seafarers at a later date .

The Commission has now decided not to make a separate report on other training because it finds, after study of the training available, that there are no major recommendations that it wishes to make on this matter.

Comments on the general situation found in respect of the training provided for non sea - going work within the industry are set out in summary form below.


This work involves waterside workers, foremen and supervisors . The training given is as follows:

Waterside workers

Waterside workers undergo induction training on first entering the industry, and as opportunity offers, attend safety courses and job-delegate courses . Selected men from all States attend a two-week practical and theoretical course in Melbourne , at which training is given in winch and crane driving, the handling of ships' cargo gear and the use of fork - lift trucks.

The training at major ports, and at the special centre in Melbourne, is carried out by the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour (AEWL), while the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority (ASIA) conducts training in the minor ports. Men working in container terminals are trained by the terminal

operators. This split of responsibilities for training has developed from the general arrangements which have governed stevedoring matters for some years. The Government has recently made basic decisions about its approach to stevedoring in the

future, contained in the statement made to the Parliament by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations on May 6. Employers and employees should keep training under review, and develop it further , within whatever new arrangements are made

for the industry.


Foreman and Supervisors

These men receive the requisite training from AEWL, the training needed for any particular man depending on that man's work history and experience.


The training of customs agents clerks is provided by certificate courses at technical colleges at the main ports. Shipping Company clerks are eligible to undergo by correspondence a certificate course at the Collier Macmillan Schools, Sydney, the course being conducted under the auspices of the Australian Chamber of Shipping. Wharf clerks are

trained by their employers. There appears to be general satisfaction with these arrangements and the Commission would not propose changes.


The Commission received a great deal of information and comment on the training of divers. Very broadly there are two categories of divers:

Those engaged in shallow-water diving in or near harbours.

Those engaged in deep-sea diving in connection with the establishment of off-shore oil wells.

Divers are engaged primarily for the trade skills that are required underwater (welding, use of explosives etc.) and for this reason the work of shallow-water divers is regulated and controlled by the Departments of Labour and

Industry in the various States.

The Commission takes the view that diving is outside its Terms of Reference. However it has been strongly emphasised to the Commission in submissions that deep-sea diving is very dangerous work, and calls for the most intensive training. There is no training for this work in Australia at the present

time. Indeed there is no safety regulation of deep-sea diving comparable to the safety provisions for seafarers embodied in the Navigation Act and its regulations.

Perhaps one reason for this vacuum is that off-shore oil drilling is a new industry. Perhaps another reason is the uncertainty in the past as to Commonwealth or State juris diction.

- 42 -

The Commission does not wish to pursue this line of argument any further, because the matter is outside the Terms of Reference. However, the absence of a safety regime comparable to the Navigation Act is a disturbing matter. The Commission would hope that, perhaps in the light of the recent High Court judgement on the Seas and Submerged Lands Act Case,

the jurisdiction might now be clearer. The appropriate authorities might be able now to go more fully into the various aspects of safety for the men engaged in this work, including training of men, certification of men, inspection of equipment

and so on.

- 43 -