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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 1

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure,Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals) (09:31): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of the Shipping Registration Amendment Bill 2018 is to amend the Shipping Registration Act 1981 (the act) to make minor technical changes necessary for the remaking of the Shipping Registration Regulations1981(the regulations). The bill does not alter the policy intent or effect of the act or the regulations.

Internationally, shipping registration and nationality is addressed in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982. Australia is a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Australian government takes these responsibilities very seriously.

Shipping registration in Australia is administered under the Shipping Registration Act and the Shipping Registration Regulations. Registration on the Australian General Shipping Register and the Australian international shipping register enables such ships to claim and demonstrate Australian nationality when in foreign ports and places those vessels under Australia's sole jurisdiction when they are in international waters.

There are currently about 12,000 vessels recorded on the Australian general shipping register which permits ships to fly the Australian national flag or the Australian Red Ensign. We have a responsibility to the owners and operators of these ships to get shipping registration right.

The Shipping Registration Act passed into law in 1981. Since then, it has been reviewed multiple times, along with the Shipping Registration Regulations.

The most recent review of the Shipping Registration Act undertaken by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities identified a small number of provisions be amended in accordance with best practice drafting principles before the regulations can be remade.

The bill makes the following minor technical changes to the act:

enhancing the head of power for regulations where it is unclear;

removing the requirement for the Regulations to prescribe forms for shipping registration certificates, instead allowing the AMSA to approve the forms of certificates; and

updating wording to reflect modern drafting standards.

Currently in some provisions of the act the head of power needed to give the regulations authority is either missing or is unclear in its wording. This bill will correct those uncertainties by clarifying a head of power for those regulations and will also provide a head of power which provides AMSA with the capacity to act as the authority under the act and the regulations.

Enabling AMSA to approve the forms of certificates will make it easier for shipping registration certificates to be updated and reduce the regulatory burden on Australian industry and will also provide AMSA with the flexibility to alter the form of a certificate to suit industry needs. This is in contrast to the current situation, where any changes to the form of certificates must be prescribed by regulation and tabled in parliament. The proposed amendments will preserve the effect of the current regulations but will remove the requirement for forms to be prescribed by regulation, meeting modern drafting standards and allowing regulatory flexibility.

Without these changes, the regulations would not be remade in accordance with the clearer Commonwealth laws principles as advised by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. The Australian government is committed to making Commonwealth law clear and easy to understand and accessible for the community. These reforms are a reflection of that commitment, and will benefit all current and future shipping registration stakeholders.

Minor technical changes to the act are required before the regulations can be remade. The regulations are due to sunset on 1 April 2019. If the regulations are not remade by 1 April 2019, there will be no mechanism by which shipowners can register their vessels in Australia, or through which transfer of ownership and registration could occur. Therefore it is imperative that this bill be passed in a timely manner.

The Australian government is committed to ensuring Australians can continue to register ships in Australia in a timely manner. These reforms are necessary and appropriate and will modernise shipping registration legislation, making it clearer and easier to understand for stakeholders.

I commend the bill.

Debate adjourned.