Federal officials have released a discussion paper on reform of the way that cargo vessels are regulated under the Commonwealth’s Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.
Progress on this particular consultation has been delayed for about nine months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A interesting point of this consultation is that officials have specifically pointed out three options that will not be considered, namely: proposals for a strategic fleet, high cost options, or opening the coast.
Eight changes are being proposed and offered for discussion.
1. Separation of licensing for cargo and passenger vessels
According to the discussion paper, this option recognises that cargo and passenger operations are “very different”.
2. A cargo and route nomination system for general licence holders
This would replace the existing system whereby general licence holders are notified of all voyage applications and variations. The new system would allow general licence holder to specify the routes, cargoes and volumes for which they may want to challenge temporary licence holders.
3. Removal of five-voyage minimum for temporary licences
“This would enhance the efficiency of Australian shipping by allowing companies to make ‘one-off’ voyage, or use spot hire at short notice. Protections for general licence holders will remain.
4. Automatic approvals of temporary licence applications
Where there is no approved general licence route / cargo nomination, then voyage applications under temporary licences would receive automatic approval. Applicants will still need to ensure the vessel name is submitted at least two business days prior to loading.
5. Align new matters and authorised matters
This proposal is an administrative change to streamline application processes for temporary licence holders. One benefit of alignment would include an extended consultation timeframe for general licence holders to review licence variations for authorised matters in certain circumstances.
6. Voyage notification requirements
Changes would be allowed to most voyage details (bar the name of the vessel) up until loading begins.
7. Tolerance limits
Tolerance limits would not be needed for routes or cargo types when there is no general licence holder route or cargo nomination.
8. Emergency licences
Several changes are proposed including widening the definition of a “genuine emergency” and consolidating energy security situations.
Shipping Australia’s preliminary view
At first sight, this set of proposed reforms aims to reduce the administrative burden on industry. In principle, as a policy position, Shipping Australia is generally in favour of a reduction in red tape. The devil, however and as always, is in the detail and is subject to the process of consultation and the passage of any subsequent legislative or regulatory change.
Have your say!
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is open to feedback until close of business on Friday 09 October 2020. Submissions can be made via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.