Other transport programs

Program 2.2-Surface Transport (continued)

Detailed report on performance

The following report is against the components of Program 2.2 as set out in the 2009–10 PBS.

I. Tasmanian transport schemes

Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme

The Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme lowers the cost of seagoing travel for eligible passengers, by reducing the cost disadvantage associated with transporting eligible passenger vehicles across Bass Strait.

The rebate payable for each crossing depends on the vehicle type. In 2009–10, rebates ranged from $25 for a bicycle to $366 for a motor home or a vehicle towing a caravan. Up to $183 was payable for cars.

The rebate is provided as a reduction in the fare charged by service providers to the drivers of eligible passenger vehicles. Drivers who fly across Bass Strait but ship their vehicles may also be eligible for a rebate.

The service provider is reimbursed for the total rebate provided to eligible passengers. In 2009–10, the major recipient was TT-Line, which operates the passenger ferries between Devonport and Melbourne.

Claims are processed by Centrelink's Hobart office under a purchaser-provider arrangement. In 2009–10, 80 per cent of claims were paid within seven days of receipt from the service operators.

The scheme is demand driven. Costs vary with the number and mix of vehicles shipped across Bass Strait. The assistance delivered by the scheme rose from $35.1 million in 2008–09 to $36.5 million in 2009–10.

The scheme was reviewed by the BITRE in 2009. The report, published in December 2009, covered the operation and impact of the scheme for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2009.

Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme

The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme aims to alleviate the sea freight cost disadvantage for businesses shipping eligible goods to the mainland for use or sale and to Tasmania as an input to a production process. Assistance of up to $855 per twenty foot equivalent unit is available.

As announced by the Australian Government in November 2008, the Tasmanian freight schemes will be reviewed in 2011–12. In May 2010, the Minister announced that changes to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme Ministerial Directions would not proceed. Claims are processed by Centrelink's Hobart office through a purchaser-provider arrangement. A substantial increase in the number of claims and claimants accessing the scheme led to lower claims processing performance in the first several months of the year. The Department worked with Centrelink in addressing this issue and there were significant improvements in claims processing performance from November 2009 onwards. There was a return to normal claims processing levels by the end of the financial year.

There was a positive uptake of the online claim lodgement facility, which was launched in the previous year. Some 40 per cent of claims were lodged through this facility.

The scheme is demand-driven. The number of claims lodged continued to increase from 10,751 in 2008–09 to 14,473 in 2009–10. Assistance delivered by the scheme in 2009–10 amounted to $98.3 million, with 12,955 claims paid.

Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme

In 2009–10, the Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme provided assistance for around 5,000 tonnes of bulk wheat shipments across Bass Strait. Assistance of up to $20.65 per tonne was available.

Claims are processed by Centrelink's Hobart office under a purchaser-provider arrangement, and in 2009–10 all claims were processed within 30 days.

Demand for the scheme decreased in 2009–10, with assistance delivered amounting to $101,000 compared with almost $320,000 in 2008–09.

II. Maritime safety and environment

Rewrite of the Navigation Act 1912

The Department undertook extensive consultation with a number of government departments and agencies to progress solutions to the key policy questions involved in the Navigation Act 1912 rewrite.

In June 2010, the Department, in conjunction with the AMSA, released a public consultation paper on issues to be addressed in the rewrite of the Navigation Act 1912, in June 2010.

Review of maritime penalties

The Department commenced work on a review of maritime penalties, following an announcement by the Minister on 18 April 2010 in response to the environmental damage caused by the grounding of the bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 on the Great Barrier Reef. The outcomes of this work will be implemented through the rewrite of the Navigation Act 1912.

Amendments to the Convention on the International Mobile Satellite Organization

The 2008 Amendments to the Convention on the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO) were tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 15 June 2010. The amendments, which were adopted at the 20th session of the IMSO Assembly on 2 October 2008:

  • extend IMSO's oversight responsibility to all maritime mobile satellite communication service providers by the IMO for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System established in February 1999, and
  • enhance IMSO's role as the coordinator of the long range identification and tracking of ships, established in May 2006 by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in response to the growing threat from terrorism.

The amendments are expected to be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties early in 2010–11. The committee is expected to make a recommendation on whether Australia should accept the amendments.

Denunciation of the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976

A proposal to denounce the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 (1976 LLMC Convention) was tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 24 June 2010. Australia is a party to a 1996 protocol which amends the 1976 LLMC Convention to, among other things, increase shipowners' liability limits. The proposed denunciation of the 1976 LLMC Convention will ensure that, if an incident in Australia involves a ship registered in a state which is a party to the 1976 Convention but not a party to the 1996 protocol, the shipowner will not be entitled to claim that the lower liability limits set out in the 1976 Convention apply.

The proposal to denounce the 1976 LLMC Convention is expected to be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties early in 2010–11. The committee is expected to make a recommendation on whether Australia should denounce the 1976 LLMC Convention.

Ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), which is intended to ensure decent working conditions for all seafarers, was adopted by the International Labour Organization in 2006. The Department has been working with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to ensure that Australian law and practice complies with the MLC. This includes proposed amendments to the Navigation Act 1912.

Once Australian law and practice complies with the MLC, DEEWR will arrange its ratification. It is expected that the international entry into force conditions will be met in 2010–11.

Increase in the protection of the sea levy

The Protection of the Sea (Shipping Levy) Amendment Regulations 2010 increased the levy rate on 1 April 2010 from 11.25 cents to 14.25 cents per net registered ton per quarter. The levy is used to fund the operations and management of the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substances (the National Plan).

The national plan incurred costs as a result of the fuel oil spill from the Pacific Adventurer incident off Queensland in March 2009. The increase in the levy will be used to fund the expected shortfall in the actual clean-up costs that were not able to be recovered from the shipowner. The increase is expected to raise revenues of approximately $4.0 million per year.

Governance of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority

The Department performs a number of tasks relating to governance and liaison with AMSA, such as briefing the Minister on its board appointments, corporate plan and annual report.

The Department also liaised with AMSA in the preparation of briefings and Ministerial responses, including a significant number arising from:

  • the Montara Wellhead Platform incident off the northwest coast of Australia, on 21 August 2009, and
  • the Shen Neng 1 grounding at Douglas Shoal north of Gladstone, on 3 April 2010.

III. Shipping policy and regulation

Regulation of coastal shipping

All vessels carrying cargo or passengers interstate are required to be licensed under Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912. Permits to engage in the coastal trade may be granted, either for a single voyage or on a continuing voyage basis, where a licensed ship is not available or is not adequate for the task and granting a permit is in the public interest.

The Department administered the licence/permit system in accordance with the provisions of Part VI of the Act, the Navigation (Coasting Trade) Regulations 2007 and the Ministerial Guidelines for Granting Licences or Permits to Engage in Australia's Domestic Shipping. Amendments to the Ministerial Guidelines were made on 2 July 2009 in respect of assessing applications for passenger cruise ship permits; specifically, the required consideration to be given to whether the granting of such permits could have a significant adverse impact on the viability of Australian licensed and crewed cruise ships. Additional amendments,which came into effect on 21 December 2009 alert licence and permit holders to their obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 and that failure to comply will be one of the factors considered in assessing future permit applications.

In 2010, the BITRE published Australian sea freight 2008–09, which provided summary data on the use of permits in coastal shipping, including the number of permit voyages, tonnes and containers of freight carried.

Regulation of liner shipping

Liner cargo ships are those which regularly sail on shipping trade routes to predetermined and publicly advertised ports of call, carrying mainly containerised (non-bulk) freight. Part X of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the TPA) allows liner shipping operators to form ‘conferences’ involving agreements by members in relation to servicing and pricing, with protection from the competition safeguards of the TPA.

Part X, which is administered by the Department, was designed to be an effective, low-cost, limited intervention regulatory regime. Many of our trading nations also permit liner shipping to form conferences in order to ensure that regular, reliable and competitive shipping services are available to shippers of exports and imports.

To assist in the effective and efficient administration of Part X, the Department developed an online register of shipping agreements to enable shippers and shipping lines to monitor when new agreements or variations are lodged, when they are approved and when they come into effect. The online register is expected to be available to any interested person or organisation in the latter part of 2010.

Australian Maritime College

The Australian Maritime College (AMC) is the premier centre for maritime training, education and research in Australia. Integrated with the University of Tasmania in January 2008, the AMC is required to report, in each of the five years post integration, on its operations under the Maritime Legislation Amendment Act 2007. In January 2010, the AMC reported to the Minister on its second year of integration. On 22 April 2010, the Minister issued a certificate to the Minister for Education, confirming that he was satisfied that all the required conditions of the Act had been met.

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Last Updated: 24 October, 2014