The Department is responsible for administering maritime safety legislation for the Australian Government which implements international ship standards established by the International Maritime Organization, and regulates the actions of seafarers in Australian waters. After approximately three years of planning, public and whole-of-government consultation, extensive drafting, and commitment and cooperation by all stakeholders, the Navigation Act 2012 received Royal Assent on 13 September 2012. The Act replaced the century old Navigation Act 1912 with a contemporary legislative framework for maritime regulation. The Act reflects changes in the maritime sector and also gives effect to the relevant international conventions to which Australia is a signatory.
The Department also administers the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (the National Law) which commenced on 1 July 2013. The National Law implements the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on Commercial Vessel Safety Reform signed by Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Ministers on 19 August 2011 to develop a national approach to regulating the safety of all domestic commercial vessels and to establish the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) as the single national regulator for domestic commercial vessel safety in Australia.