JULY 2, 2013 — Australia yesterday replaced century-old maritime laws with new requirements for commercial seafarers and vessels as the Navigation Act 2012 and Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) Law Act 2012 came into effect.
"These are the biggest reforms to Australia's maritime sector in more than 100 years," says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is administering both acts.
"The Navigation Act 2012 sees Australia's maritime laws reflect the expectations of a modern shipping industry," AMSA's CEO Graham Peachey said.
The fundamental requirements for ships to be seaworthy remain unchanged while the new Navigation Act highlights the need for ships to be operated and navigated safely by competent seafarers who have decent working and living conditions.
The Navigation Act also provides AMSA with a range of new measures to ensure compliance with safety and environmental requirements including increased financial penalties for non-compliant vessels, exclusion from Australian ports of vessels with poor inspection histories and the issuing on the spot infringement notices for marine order offenses.
"AMSA recognizes that the majority of the shipping industry seeks to ensure that ships are operated safely and with no damage to the environment," Mr Peachey said.
Yesterday also saw the introduction of an Australian National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety, with AMSA becoming the national regulator for commercial vessel safety. The National System will mean eight existing regulations will be replaced with one set of national rules.
"Having one set of rules cuts red tape and reduces the administrative burden for businesses in the maritime industry and allows industry to operate across state and territory borders freely," Mr Peachey said.
The development of the national safety standards has been in conjunction with each of the states and territories which will act as delegates of the national regulator in implementing the new standards.