Chapter 4: Transport—Continued

Table 4.6 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the administered items under Program 2.2.

Table 4.6 Summary of performance—Program 2.2 administered items

Administered Item Result
Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme. The aim of the scheme—to alleviate the cost disadvantage of transporting eligible passenger vehicles across Bass Strait—was achieved and service operators were reimbursed in a timely manner.
International Maritime Organization–contribution. The Department administered the payment of Australia's annual membership contribution to the IMO, an agency of the United Nations, which promotes safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans. Membership allows Australian Government officers to promote Australia's interests in IMO committees and subcommittees. The total contribution for 2011–12 was $185,273.95.
Interstate Road Transport Fees. The states and territories collected $83.8 million in heavy vehicle registration charges on behalf of the Australian Government during 2011–12. In March 2012 there were 19,223 heavy vehicles and trailers operating under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme. All revenue collected is paid to the Australian Government for redistribution to states and territories for road maintenance.
National Transport Commission. Governments were assisted to increase transport productivity, efficiency, safety and sustainability through the NTC's work to develop consistent and effective national reforms for road, rail and intermodal transport.
National Transport Reform. COAG signed intergovernmental agreements on 19 August 2011 for national rail safety, heavy vehicle and maritime reforms. The Department continued to work with project offices and states and territories on implementation. Key achievements were the agreement to national laws by ministers in November 2011, passage of the Rail Safety National Law through the South Australian Parliament, appointment of the National Rail Safety Regulator CEO, agreement to the Board of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law in the Queensland Parliament. In 2011–12, the Australian Government provided $3.6million to start setting up the national regulators' head offices; contributed $3.2million towards operation of the rail and heavy vehicle project offices; and $1million each to Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory to assist their transition to the national arrangements.
OECD Road Transport—contribution. The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) managed Australian participation in the OECD-International Transport Forum Joint Transport Research Centre. This included international research collaboration on the assessment of major infrastructure projects, seamless public transport, urban cycling and motorcycle safety.
Oil Pollution Compensation Fund. The Department managed Australia's obligations under the fund, which provides compensation for damage from an oil spill from an oil tanker if the costs exceed the tanker owner's liability or the owner's ability to pay. All persons (including oil companies) that received more than 150,000 tonnes of crude oil or heavy oil by sea made contributions in accordance with levies imposed by the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds.
Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme. The aim of the scheme—to alleviate the sea freight cost disadvantage for eligible businesses shipping eligible goods to and from Tasmania—was achieved.
Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme. No claims were submitted under the scheme in 2011–12.
Temporary Assistance for Tasmanian Exporters. The Tasmanian Government received $20 million through a project agreement to assist exporters to access international markets.

The budget and actual expenditure for each administered item is listed in Appendix A.

Detailed report on performance

The following report is against the headings from the applicable output from the 2011–12 PBS.

a) National heavy vehicle and rail safety regulation

The Department collaborated with state and territory governments to finalise intergovernmental agreements on rail safety and heavy vehicle regulatory reform. They were signed by Ministers on 19 August 2011 and provide for national laws and national regulators by January 2013.

Drafting national laws progressed with the Department working closely with the National Transport Commission (NTC) and jurisdictions to finalise the draft rail safety and heavy vehicle national law bills for agreement by transport ministers in November 2011. The rail law subsequently passed the South Australian Parliament in May 2012. The Heavy Vehicle National Law Bill will be reintroduced in the Queensland Parliament in 2012–13 after lapsing early in 2012 due to the Queensland election. The Department continued to collaborate with jurisdictions to resolve residual policy issues for the implementation of the three national regulators.

The Department led processes for transport ministers to select Australia's first national rail safety regulator, and the inaugural Chair of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Board.

The Department continued planning for the closure of the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme once the national registration component of the Heavy Vehicle National Law comes into effect.

b) National maritime safety regulation

On 18 May 2012, the SCOTI unanimously agreed to the introduction in Parliament of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill 2012 and associated consequential amendment Bill (‘the National Law Bills’). The National Law Bills introduced a new national system for regulating domestic commercial vessel safety and established the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) as the National Marine Safety Regulator.

The National Law Bills were developed in close consultation with the state and territory jurisdictions and implemented the COAG Intergovernmental Agreement on Commercial Vessel Safety Reform signed by First Ministers on 19 August 2011.

The National Law Bills were introduced in Parliament on 24 May 2012 and were passed in the House of Representatives on 19 June 2012. The Bills were scheduled for debate in the Senate in the spring parliamentary sittings and intended to start in January 2013.

The legislation will give consistent national safety regulation of the domestic commercial vessel industry across Australia.

c) Shipping policy and regulation

Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012

Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912 was repealed, and a new regulatory framework for coastal shipping was established under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012. This was part of an integrated suite of reforms under the Government's Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy initiative aimed at revitalising the Australian shipping industry. The reforms came into effect on 1 July 2012.

Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912

During 2011–12 the Department, on behalf of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, considered 1,550 coastal trading permits under Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912. These permits facilitated coastal cargo trade where no Australian licensed vessel was available.

Part X—Register of Liner Shipping—Competition and Consumer Act 2010

During 2011–12, 20 provisional registrations and 18 final registrations for international joint shipping agreements were approved under Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. All were registered within legislated time frames, taking an average of six days per agreement.

Stakeholders continued to have online access to the Register of Liner Shipping, enabling shipping lines and their representatives, and peak shipper bodies, to view details on applications to the register and key data on registered agreements. During the year, the Department provided input on maritime trade services to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to inform international trade negotiations.

Funding of $20,000 to the Australian Peak Shippers Association assisted its role as the designated outwards peak shipper body under Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

International Maritime Organization

The International Maritime Organization (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 meetings:

  • Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2011 and February–March 2012
  • Legal Committee in April 2012
  • Council in June 2012, and
  • The International Oil Pollution Fund in October 2011 and April 2012.

d) Maritime safety and environment

Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

The Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced in Parliament on 27 June 2012. The primary purpose was to amend the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 to implement amendments to annexes to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. These were adopted by the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee on 15 July 2011.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Oversight

The Department performs a number of tasks relating to governance and liaison with the AMSA. They include briefing the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport on AMSA's corporate plan, annual report and board appointments. The Department and AMSA continued to collaborate to support the Australian Government's maritime reform agenda, as well as prepare briefings and ministerial responses on AMSA related issues.

Lighthouse land transfers

The Department and AMSA worked with the Department of Finance and Deregulation and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to enable the granting of selected lighthouse sites under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (ALR Act).

On 28 June 2012, the Governor-General in Executive Council granted the Point Charles lighthouse site in the Northern Territory (Section 41, Hundred of Bray, County of Palmerston) to the Kenbi Aboriginal Land Trust in accordance with the ALR Act. An agreement is in place for AMSA to continue to operate and care for this historic lighthouse, the oldest in the Northern Territory. The lighthouse has withstood numerous cyclones and is still part of AMSA's national network of aids to navigation, guiding domestic and international shipping around the Cox Peninsula headland, 21 kilometres from the Port of Darwin.

Re-write of the Navigation Act 1912

On 19 June 2012, the House of Representatives passed the Navigation Bill 2012 and Navigation (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2012. The Navigation Bill 2012 will provide the primary legislative means for the Australian Government to regulate ship and seafarer safety, the actions of seafarers in Australian waters, and shipboard aspects of protecting the marine environment, as well as giving effect to the international conventions to which Australia is a signatory.

The Navigation Bill 2012 will replace the existing Navigation Act 1912 with a contemporary legislative framework for maritime safety regulation. The Bill modernises, streamlines and clarifies the existing legislation to ensure it reflects contemporary maritime industry practice, and has the flexibility to respond to changes in the maritime operating environment.

The Navigation Bill 2012 incorporates the provisions of the Lighthouses Act 1911, which will be repealed once the Navigation Bill 2012 is enacted.

The Senate debated the Bill during spring sittings this year, following which the Bill received Royal Assent on 13 September 2012 and is now known as the Navigation Act 2012.

Did you know?

The latest available data shows that in 2009–10, a total of 1,052.42 million tonnes of cargo was handled at Australian ports.

Source: Australian Infrastructure Statistics—Yearbook 2012, Tables T 7.5 a & b.

Case Study—Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy

The Australian shipping industry is in decline. The number of large trading vessels in the Australian registered fleet has decreased significantly since the mid-1990s. The ageing fleet, which is, on average, eight years older than the global fleet, has productivity, environmental and safety implications. The pool of Australian maritime skills is decreasing, with projected shortages of highly skilled seafarers to fill marine safety and environmental roles. In short, the Australian shipping industry is uncompetitive in today's global marketplace, and the inability of Australian vessels to compete on a level playing field with international operators has led to the current decline.

The Australian Government acted to arrest and reverse this decline. In September 2011, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport announced the Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy reform package designed to revitalise the Australian shipping industry. It comprises a new regulatory framework for coastal shipping, significant tax reforms, a new Australian International Shipping Register and workforce skills development initiatives.

The Department worked closely with industry stakeholders and other government agencies to develop integrated legislation to give effect to the Australian Government's shipping reform agenda. On 22 March 2012, the Minister introduced the resulting five Bills in the House of Representatives. The Bills were subsequently passed into law and came into effect on 1 July 2012.

The new laws represent the most significant overhaul of the Australian shipping industry in 100 years. The centrepiece of the reforms is income-tax exemption and other tax incentives to encourage ship ownership and ship operations in Australia, and to encourage employment of Australian seafarers. A new licensing framework for accessing the coastal trades provides greater certainty and transparency for the industry. The new Australian International Shipping Register is a competitive alternative for Australian ship owners and operators to registering vessels overseas. The Minister also established the Maritime Workforce Development Forum, which advises on measures to address the skills shortage and build a sustainable domestic maritime skills base.

Image of stronger shipping for a stronger economy

In one of the most international and competitive industries in the world, the Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy initiative has placed Australia on an equal footing with other reputable and globally recognised shipping regimes by providing a solid platform for future investment in Australian shipping.

e) Road transport policy

The Department continued to work with jurisdictions and the NTC to implement national transport reforms to improve transport productivity and safety. Key areas of work through 2011–12 included: participation in a NSW-led trial of electronic work diaries; feedback on draft national heavy vehicle laws; an NTC review of written work diaries for managing heavy vehicle driver fatigue; ongoing work on regulatory telematics applications such as on-board mass monitoring and intelligent speed compliance and the NTC review of A-trailer charges. The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) published an analysis of the impact of past heavy vehicle reforms on truck productivity and projected future productivity trends. The analysis showed that productivity has more than doubled over the last three decades, meaning that only half the number of trucks are needed to carry freight.

f) COAG Road Reform Plan

The Department participated in a joint COAG Road Reform Plan (CRRP)–Deputy Heads of Treasuries Working Group which was established to advise on the interaction between charging, funding and governance issues for a range of reforms for heavy vehicles.

The Department helped develop CRRP milestone reports to COAG, including a feasibility study of more direct heavy vehicle charging and funding which was submitted to COAG in December 2011. This report represented a key decision point for COAG on whether to proceed with the reform. The Department is actively engaged in further work in preparation for the next phase of the CRRP reforms should COAG decide to proceed following consideration of the feasibility study.

g) 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. 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 2011–12, the major recipient was TT-Line, which operates the passenger ferries between Devonport and Melbourne.

Claims are processed by the Department of Human Services' Hobart office. 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 2011–12 of $34.6 million was only marginally below the 2010–11 figures of $36.5 million. Modelling by the BITRE shows that an estimated 15,000 new leisure visitors travelled by sea due to the scheme in 2010–11 (30 per cent more than without the scheme).

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 production. Assistance of up to $855 per 20-foot equivalent unit is available.

Claims are processed by Department of Human Services' Hobart office. The scheme is demand-driven. The number of claims lodged in 2011–12 (11,257) was lower compared with14,373 in 2010–11. The number of claims paid in 2011–12 was also lower, amounting to 9,860 compared with 10,162 in 2010–11.

Assistance delivered by the scheme in 2011–12 was $93.2 million, compared to $98.5 million in 2010–11. The BITRE undertook a review of the parameters underpinning the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme and Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2010.

Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme

The Tasmanian Wheat Freight Scheme aims to alleviate the cost of shipping eligible bulk wheat to Tasmania so that local businesses relying on bulk wheat shipments are not unduly disadvantaged. Assistance of up to $20.65 per tonne was available. 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 2011–12.

h) Transport disability standards

The Department facilitated the Australian Government's response to the first five-year review of the transport standards, through its role in chairing the Accessible Public Transport Jurisdictional Committee supported by the Accessible Public Transport National Advisory Committee.

i) Environmental standards

The National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Hazardous and Noxious Substances

The National Plan is a national integrated Australian Government and industry framework enabling effective response to marine pollution incidents. AMSA manages operations of the plan, in consultation with state and Northern Territory governments and industry stakeholders. The Department was involved in discussions with AMSA and other key stakeholders as part of the review of the plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

CO2 emission standards for new light vehicles

The Australian Government will introduce mandatory CO2 emission standards for new light vehicles from 2015 and the Department is responsible for developing them. On 6September 2011, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport released a discussion paper for public comment titled Light Vehicle CO2 Emission Standards for Australia–Key Issues. The Department engaged an expert consultant to provide independent analyses of the light vehicle fleet between 2010 and 2025 under business-as-usual and mandatory standards scenarios and anticipated costs and benefits from mandatory standards. Work began on a regulation impact statement for the standards.

The Department continued to maintain and update the Green Vehicle Guide www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au which helps private, government and business consumers to make decisions about environmental performance of new light vehicles.

Did you know?

In 2010–11, direct greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles amounted to 75.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent.

Source: Australian Infrastructure Statistics—Yearbook 2012, Table T 9.4.

Case Study—Re-write of the Navigation Act

For 100 years the Navigation Act 1912 has been Australia's primary legislation regulating ship and seafarer safety, shipboard aspects of protecting the marine environment and protecting seafarers' rights and conditions.The Act covers international maritime treaties and conventions, such as safety of life at sea, training and certification of seafarers, and preventing collisions. The Act was amended frequently to ensure that Australia remained compliant with its international obligations. The original Navigation Bill was being written when the Titanic sank in April 1912 and the hard lessons learnt from this tragedy were reflected in the legislation. Many of the original provisions of the Act are even older, having been taken from the British merchant shipping Act of 1894, which included laws that had been around since the 18th century.

Over time, the Act has come to include a mix of modern and antiquated concepts and was overdue for a comprehensive review. In June 2009, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport announced that the Australian Government would rewrite it. Three years later, after intensive planning, public and whole-of-government consultation, the Navigation Bill 2012 was introduced in the Parliament in May 2012. The new legislation reflects contemporary maritime industry practice and is written in plain language, making clear the regulatory responsibilities of domestic and international seafarers, and vessel owners and operators.

The Lighthouses Act 1911, an Act which predates the old Navigation Act, was incorporated into the new legislation. The Acts being brought together makes good sense, as both are about safe navigation. The lighthouse provisions were recast to ensure they reflected a modern world where satellite navigation and high-tech communications are the order of the day and operate with more traditional beacons and lights.

The Navigation Bill received Royal Assent on 13 September 2012 and is now known as the Navigation Act 2012.

Image of navigation

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Last Updated: 17 November, 2014