Date:12.38 PM THURSDAY, 25 November 1999
Member:Barnett, Mr Colin
Page:3876 / 1

The Bill also contains provisions to control the placement and construction of jetties, maritime structures and moorings to ensure the safety of navigation and for environmental reasons. Safe navigation is a central plank of the Maritime Bill. Provisions in part 3 cover the traditional areas of concern such as registration of vessels, marine qualifications, pilots and pilotage, safe operation of vessels, navigational hazards, distress, emergencies and collisions. These provisions have been imported from the WA Marine Act and updated to meet developments in marine safety. Additionally the Bill puts in place a new statutory requirement requiring port and maritime facility operators to prepare marine safety plans that will be monitored by the Director General of Transport.

Part 4 of the Bill provides the mechanism that will allow the adoption of international maritime conventions to apply in respect of commercial vessels that will come within the ambit of this Bill. These conventions are currently contained in schedules to the WA Marine Act; however the timing difficulties associated with getting amendments before the Parliament often prevent their being kept up to date. The proposed mechanism of adopting these conventions by regulation will ensure that important safety initiatives are introduced in a timely fashion; however it should also be noted that these adopting regulations will be subject to review and disallowance by the Parliament.

Part 5 of the Bill provides for marine inquiries and the establishment of courts of marine inquiry. Where a marine incident results in injury to a person or damage to a vessel or maritime structure, the director general will be empowered to require an officer to conduct a preliminary report for consideration by the minister as to whether the matter should be referred to a court of marine inquiry. In addition to the powers given to an authorised officer in clause 131, an officer conducting a preliminary inquiry will be given wide powers to conduct investigations. These powers are similar to those which Parliament conferred on rail safety investigators under section 42 of the Rail Safety Act 1998. As with rail safety, the main aim of these investigations is to determine the cause of the accident to prevent further injury or loss of life. A court of marine inquiry will consist of a stipendiary magistrate appointed by the Chief Stipendiary Magistrate and two assessors who have experience relevant to the matter under inquiry, appointed by the director general. The function of a court of marine inquiry is to establish the cause of the incident and make recommendations to the minister. Any offences that may come to light as a result of the inquiry will remain a matter for the criminal courts.

An important new initiative in the Bill is the creation of the Maritime Appeal Tribunal. The tribunal will have the ability to review administrative decisions made by the director general in respect of various licensing provisions of the Bill. The tribunal will consist of a presiding magistrate and two members, chosen by the magistrate from a panel, who have expertise in the area under review. Determinations of the tribunal will be final and binding on all parties.

The remaining provisions deal with administrative issues. Part 7 provides the mechanism for levying maritime charges. Parts 8, 9 and 10 of the Bill provide for enforcement, miscellaneous matters and regulations and generally reflect updated provisions from existing Acts. Administrative provisions currently in the Marine and Harbours Act, such as those dealing with acquisition, vesting and holding of land by the minister and the power of the minister to enter into contracts or appoint agents, have not been replicated in the Maritime Bill. These issues will be addressed in the Transport Co-ordination Act through the Marine and Transport Legislation Amendment and Repeal Bill. This will further streamline legislation and ensure a consistent legal structure across the Transport portfolio.

This legislative package, together with the Port Authorities Act 1999, will result in a complete overhaul of the State’s maritime legislation. Complex, fragmented and antiquated maritime legislation will be replaced with legislation that is simple, cohesive and up-to-date. In doing so, the Bill will help to facilitate the growth of our economy and provide access to opportunities and resources in the State’s coastal zone. However, most of all, the Bill is designed to promote marine safety and will help to save lives and protect the marine environment. I commend the Bill to the House.

[See paper No 463.]

Debate adjourned, on motion by Mr Cunningham.