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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1088

Mr LUSHER(10.33) —The Opposition supports these two Bills. They are, in essence, the measures that were presented to the Parliament by the former Minister for Transport, the Hon. Ralph Hunt, last year. The preservation of Australia's marine and coastal environment has always been of concern to the parties presently on this side of the House. Throughout the years when we were in government, legislation was introduced to keep Australia up to date with developments in international treaties.

In 1981 we introduced into the Parliament protection of the sea legislation which included specific measures to provide improved protection of the marine and coastal environments, powers of intervention in the case of actual or threatened marine pollution incidents and ability to demand compensation to pay for the combating and cleaning up of tanker sourced oil pollution. This protection of the sea package is a further step towards winning the fight against marine pollution. The origins of these Bills go back to the Commonwealth 's obligations under the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as amended by the 1978 Protocol to the Convention. The two instruments are widely referred to as MARPOL.

Before the former Government introduced these measures, discussions were held with a number of people who had a concern and interest in the legislation. They included the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, National Development and Energy, Foreign Affairs, Primary Industry, Finance, the Attorney-General, Science and Technology and Home Affairs and Environment. Discussions were also held with the State and Northern Territory Ministers in the Marine and Ports Council of Australia. These Ministers agreed that their governments would follow the Commonwealth's legislation with complementary legislation in order to complete fully Australia's commitment to the MARPOL Convention. The shipping industry and port operators were also consulted about the legislation. Overall, the previous Government relied heavily on the consensus and information sharing to take these Bills to the stage they have now reached. The other important point about the legislation is that the cost to the taxpayer of enactment of these two important Bills is nil.

The Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Bill introduces new and improved pollution control provisions relating to oil pollution, including special arrangements for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. It introduces controls on the operation of ships carrying noxious liquid in bulk and the discharging and cleaning of cargo tanks. Depending on the catergorisation of the substance, different rules are applied. The Navigation ( Protection of the Sea) Amendment Bill repeals section 12 of the Navigation Act. The repeal of this section allows the MARPOL Convention to supersede the 1954 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. This Bill inserts a new section 12 relating to oil carrying ships. As all matters relating to the construction, safety and survey of ships are incorporated in the Navigation Act, MARPOL Convention requirements have also been included in the Act for simplicity of administration and understanding by the industry.

The Opposition has no objection to the Bills. I congratulate the Hawke Government and the Minister for Transport (Mr Peter Morris), who is at the table upon carrying on the good work of the field of protection against pollution that was started by the former Government.