Legislation Update – Maritime Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (Cth)

18 February 2016

The Maritime Legislation Amendment Act 2015 received Royal assent on 11 December 2015. Schedule 1 commenced on 8 January 2016 and Schedule 2 will commence on 1 March 2016

The Act corrects errors and closes loopholes created by the wholesale amendment of the Navigation Act and other maritime legislation back in 2012.

Dangerous Goods

The Act amends the definition of “dangerous goods” in the Navigation Act 2012 (Cth) to broaden the definition to all items within the meaning of chapter VI of SOLAS. The definition had previously been limited to only those goods listed in the IMDG Code.

CLC and Bunker Convention Certificates

The Act corrects a drafting error (a definition had been removed in error) in the Protection of the Sea (Civil Liability) Act 1981 (Cth) and the Protection of the Sea (Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage) Act 2008 (Cth) to ensure that vessel’s are obliged to carry CLC and Bunker Convention insurance certification and to enforce compliance.

Pollution in internal State waters

The Act also amends the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 (Cth) to correct an error in the definition of “sea near a state” to ensure the application of the Protection of the Sea Act to internal State and Territory waters in circumstances where that State and Territory does not have a law giving effect to Regulations 4, 15 and 34 of Annex Ⅰ to the 1973 Convention. This amendment corrects a drafting error so as to restore the long accepted position.

Antarctic – Prohibition on carriage of heavy grade oil

Schedule 2 of the Act extends the prohibition of carriage or use of heavy grade oil on Australian or Foreign flagged ships in the Antarctic area to include heavy grade oil carried as ballast. This amendment closes a loophole and ensures consistency with Australia’s obligations under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973.


It is unsurprising that the wholesale amendment of Australian maritime legislation in 2012 has given rise to some errors and loopholes. Those errors and loopholes are now being corrected and closed by the current government and this Amendment Act is a step in the right direction.

This Act must not be confused with the proposed Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 which seeks to amend and streamline the current coastal shipping permit system introduced by the previous Labour government by way of the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012. The Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill is politically sensitive and has wide reaching implications for Australian shipping both with regard to the Australian seafarers Australian ships and the ports and service providers who would like to see cabotage volumes increase. The Bill was defeated in the Senate last year and the Liberal government has indicated that it will seek a fresh Senate vote early in 2016.

Article written by Anthony Highfield, Partner and Chris Sacré, Senior Associate.

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