Program 2.2—Surface Transport (continued)
National Transport Regulatory Reforms
In 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish national laws and single national regulators for the heavy vehicle, rail and maritime industries. A new national rail safety regulator will be established in Adelaide and a new national heavy vehicle regulator will be established in Brisbane. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority will become the national maritime regulator and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will undertake all rail safety investigations. The reforms will be in place by the end of 2012.
National regulators and national laws will help to eliminate significant inefficiencies in the transport sector while enhancing already very high levels of safety. The productivity benefits and boost to national income from these reforms is expected to be up to $30.0 billion over 20 years.
Current regulatory inconsistencies between states and territories result in situations where some truck operators are forced to limit their operations to certain jurisdictions to reduce compliance costs, carry reduced loads, or not carry certain freight because of the differing width and weight requirements across jurisdictional borders. More than 20 per cent of the rail industry has operations in multiple states, requiring operators to regularly deal with two or more regulators and additional regulatory burdens and costs. In the maritime sector, there are significant variations in interpretation and application of agreed national safety standards, as well as differing crew qualifications, construction standards and operational certificate requirements.
In mid-2010, project offices were established in Queensland and South Australia to establish the new heavy vehicle and rail safety regulators. The project offices are jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.
The Department has worked with all stakeholders on a range of governance matters to support the establishment of the national regulators and development of the national laws. Draft laws and regulatory impact statements were released for public comment (heavy vehicles), or developed in anticipation for public comment in the second half of 2011 (rail and maritime).
In May 2011, the Australian Transport Council (ATC) agreed to forward Intergovernmental Agreements IGAs on the reforms to COAG for signature and agreed to the recommendations of independent expert panels on a small number of policy issues for both rail and heavy vehicles. Additionally, ATC agreed that work be undertaken to establish ‘no blame’ investigation arrangements as part of the national maritime regulatory system.
COAG signed these historic IGAs on 19 August 2011 to provide for the introduction of the single national regulator reform in 2013.
More information about the reforms is available at www.nhvr.gov.au (heavy vehicles), www.nrsrproject.sa.gov.au (rail safety), www.amsa.gov.au (maritime safety) and www.atsb.gov.au (national investigator).
Detailed report on performance
The following report is against the headings from the applicable output from the 2010–11 PBS.
(a) Tasmanian transport schemes
Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme
The BSPVES 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 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 between the Australian mainland and either King Island or the islands in the Furneaux Group, 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 2010–11, 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 2010–11, 96 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 in 2010–11 of $36.5 million was only marginally above the 2009–10 figure.
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 20-foot-equivalent unit is available.
Claims are processed by Centrelink's Hobart office through a purchaser-provider arrangement. The scheme is demand-driven. The number of claims lodged in 2010–11 (11,189) decreased sharply compared with 2009–10 (14,373). The number of claims paid in 2010–11 was also lower, amounting to 10,162 compared with 12,955 in 2009–10. Assistance delivered by the scheme in 2010–11 was $98.5 million, which was only a slight increase on the $98.3 million in 2009–10.
Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme
The Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme aims to alleviate the cost of shipping eligible bulk wheat to Tasmania so that businesses in Tasmania relying on bulk wheat shipments are not unduly disadvantaged. The scheme operates by making payments to eligible shippers responsible for paying the sea freight costs of eligible bulk wheat shipments. There was no uptake of the Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme in 2010–11.
(b) Maritime safety and environment
Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) Protocol
In May 2011, the Department circulated a paper to stakeholders to seek their views on Australian accession to the Protocol of 2010 to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (2010 HNS Protocol).
If Australia was to become a party to the 2010 HNS Protocol, the original 1996 HNS Convention as amended by the 2010 HNS Protocol, would apply in Australia.
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, give effect to two changes to IMSO's role:
- extend IMSO's oversight responsibility to all maritime mobile satellite communication service providers by the International Maritime Organization (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 were considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) at a public hearing on 22 November 2010. JSCOT supported Australian acceptance of the amendments in its Report 115, tabled in both houses of Parliament on 21 March 2011. It is expected that the acceptance process will be completed in the second half of the 2011 calendar year.
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 considered by JSCOT in a public hearing on 22 November 2010. JSCOT supported denunciation in its Report 115, tabled in both houses of Parliament on 21 March 2011. It is expected that the denunciation process will be completed in the second half of the 2011 calendar year.
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, in the event of an incident in Australia involving 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.
Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) Ratification
The 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) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to ensure that Australian law and practice complies with the MLC. The Navigation Amendment Bill 2011, which will amend the Navigation Act 1912 to implement the MLC in Australia, was introduced into the House of Representatives on 25 May 2011.
Amendment to Annex I of the Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (MARPOL)
MARPOL is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships. Annex I of MARPOL covers prevention of pollution by oil from operational or accidental causes.
Two amendments of Annex I were tabled in both houses of Parliament and subsequently considered at a public hearing by JSCOT. These amendments to Annex I:
- regulate ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of oil carried as cargo, and
- ban the use or carriage of heavy-grade oils in the Antarctic area.
The Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Oil Transfers) Bill 2011, which relates to STS transfers of oil, was introduced into the House of Representatives on 25 May 2011. A Bill relating to the ban on heavy-grade oils in the Antarctic area was introduced into Parliament during the 2011 spring sittings.
The Department performs a number of tasks relating to governance and liaison with AMSA. Such tasks include reporting to the Minister on:
- the Corporate Plan
- the Annual Report
- board appointments
- portfolio agency updates, and
- input relating to AMSA's functions.
The Department and AMSA continue to work in close collaboration to support the Australian Government's maritime reform agenda. The Department also liaised with AMSA in the preparation of briefings and Ministerial responses.
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 the college's operations under the Maritime Legislation Amendment Act 2007. The AMC reported to the Minister, on its third year of integration, in December 2010.
The Maritime Legislation Amendment Act 2007 requires the Minister to decide whether he agrees that the conditions reflected in the Act have been met. On 2 March 2011, the Minister issued a certificate to the Minister for Education, confirming that, under the Act, he was satisfied that all the required conditions had been met.
(c) National maritime safety regulation
In May 2011, transport ministers agreed to forward the Intergovernmental Agreement on Commercial Vessel Safety Reform to COAG for signature. The draft Maritime Safety National Law Bill, which will establish the framework for the national system and AMSA as the national regulator, was circulated to jurisdictions and the Parliamentary Counsel's Committee for consideration in mid June 2011. Public consultation on the national system began in late June 2011. This reform is planned for implementation from January 2013.
(d) Shipping policy and regulation
Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy
To progress the Australian Government's 2010 election commitment to revitalise Australian shipping, the Department prepared a public discussion paper, Reforming Australia's Shipping, for Ministerial release on 1 December 2010. More than 40 submissions were received in response.
The Department also participated in, and provided secretariat support for, three industry reference groups (Regulatory, Taxation and Workforce Skills). The Minister established the reference groups to provide advice on the implementation of the reforms proposed in the discussion paper. On 8 February 2011, the Minister convened the three reference groups for their inaugural meeting. The groups continued to meet to consider the reform proposals and reported to the Minister at a forum held on 30 May 2011. The Minister announced the Government's shipping reform package Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Australia on 9 September 2011.
Part VI-Coastal Trading Permits-Navigation Act 1912
The Department, on behalf of the Minister, approved 1352 single voyage permits and 62 continuing voyage permits under Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912 in 2010–11. These permits facilitated the coastal trade of cargo where no Australian licensed vessel was available.
Part X-Register of Liner Shipping—Competition and Consumer Act 2010
During 2010–11 a total of 33 provisional registrations and 34 final registrations for international joint shipping agreements were approved under Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (renamed on 1 Jan 2011 from the former Trade Practices Act 1974). One hundred per cent were registered within legislated time frames.
Stakeholders were given access to the online Register of Liner Shipping, enabling shipping lines and their representatives, and peak shipper bodies, access to details on applications to the register and key data on registered agreements.
During the year, input was given to international trade agreements and a review of Australia's trade was drafted by the World Trade Organization.
(e) Road transport policy
The National Transport Commission (NTC) released the draft heavy vehicle national law and draft regulatory impact statement for public consultation on 28 February 2011. ATC ministers also agreed in March 2011 to adopt a nationally consistent approach to fatigue management for heavy vehicle operators. The Department was a lead supporter of these processes, and worked with jurisdictions and the NTC to improve transport efficiency and safety, for example, by participating in a NSW-led trial of Electronic Work Diaries and continuing to participate in the national performance-based Standards Review Panel and Transport Certification Australia.
(f) COAG Road Reform Plan (CRRP)
As well as playing a key oversight role through membership of the CRRP Project Board, the Department provided policy input to the development of the CRRP Phase 2, Stages 2 and 3, reports to COAG. The Stage 2 report provided an overview and scope of the work program being undertaken by CRRP, and provided an assessment of high-level options for alternative models of road pricing and funding against the conceptual framework. The Stage 3 report summarised progress and outlined charging options and key issues to be included in the final feasibility study, due in December 2011.
(g) National heavy vehicle regulation and rail safety regulation
The Department continued to work closely with the National Rail Safety Regulator Project Office and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Project Office to progress COAG's 2009 decision to implement national regulators by the end of 2012. In May 2011, transport ministers agreed to forward the IGAs for rail and heavy vehicles to COAG for signature. Planning has begun for the closure of the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme in 2013, in line with the development of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
(h) Transport disability standards
The Australian Government released the response to the first five-year review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport on 3 June 2011. The Department began processes for scoping an implementation plan for the review, including re-convening the Australian Public Transport Jurisdictional Committee of transport agency officials.
(i) Environmental standards
New, more stringent air pollution standards (Euro 5 and Euro 6) were agreed for light vehicles, to take effect from late 2013. The standards will deliver significant reductions in those emissions which impact on urban air quality and affect human health outcomes. The consultation process on new mandatory CO2 emissions standards began. The Green Vehicle Guide website and fuel consumption labelling standard were updated to enable listing and labelling of electric vehicles.
International Maritime Organization
The IMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations which is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution from ships.
Officers of the Surface Transport Policy Division attended the following IMO meetings:
- Marine Environment Protection Committee in September-October 2010
- Legal Committee in November 2010 and April 2011, and
- Council in November 2010 and June 2011.
The National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Hazardous and Noxious Substances (The National Plan)
The National Plan is a national integrated government and industry organisational framework enabling effective response to marine pollution incidents. AMSA manages the operations of the National Plan, in consultation with state and Northern Territory governments and industry stakeholders.
The Department plays an integral role in the National Plan Management Committee, which provides strategic direction to maximise Australia's marine pollution response capabilities.
Revitalising Australia's Shipping Industry
Shipping is a global industry that plays a central role in our domestic economy; around 25 per cent of the domestic freight task (on a tonne/kilometre basis) is carried by ships. However, outdated domestic shipping laws (enacted in 1912) and other policy settings are not responsive to the modern, highly competitive and international nature of the maritime industry. As a result, the number of Australian vessels involved in coastal shipping has been consistently declining and foreign vessels are increasingly servicing the coastal trades.
The Australian Government is addressing this decline by creating an internationally competitive investment environment, developing a stronger regulatory framework, establishing an international shipping register, and implementing a range of skills initiatives to rebuild the Australian maritime industry.
Tax reform, including corporate tax measures, accelerated depreciation and a range of other taxation incentives will provide certainty for capital investment in Australian shipping while putting Australian shipping on a competitive footing with internationally recognised shipping regimes such as the United Kingdom and Singapore.
The regulatory changes will modernise the current legislation and provide a transparent operating framework for shipping operators and shippers that will support business decision-making. A new licensing regime will enable Australian-registered ships to have unrestricted access to coastal trades, while the role foreign vessels play in coastal cargo movement will be supported through temporary licences. Establishing an Australian international shipping register will encourage Australian participation in international trades.
A strong maritime industry needs a strong skills base, and key industry representatives will work with this Department and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to implement a range of training and workforce planning initiatives that will ensure the maritime industry itself can build for future skills needs.
The Minister announced the shipping reform package Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Australia on 9 September 2011. The key features of this reform are:
- tax reform
- an Australian international shipping register
- a new licensing regime, and
- workforce skills development.
These measures are expected to take effect from 1 July 2012.