The Australian Government will provide further financial relief to assist maritime businesses through challenging times, with the Federal Budget delivering an additional $11 million funding in 2021‑22 for the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the funding allowed the Government to delay its planned review of costs and charges for the National System for 12 months to provide further financial relief and certainty to industry.
“This funding will also ensure the Australian Maritime Safety Authority can continue to deliver vital safety regulation for our maritime industries,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Delaying the introduction of a levy will provide industries and employers more time to focus on their recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and in many cases events such as the recent bushfires, so they can adjust their businesses to a new normal.
“Whether a small commercial tourism operator showcasing our nation’s beautiful coasts and regions, or a commercial fisher doing their part to keep shelves stocked with fresh food, we want to make sure seafarers and maritime businesses can continue to operate, or get back out on the water soon.
“By supporting operations across our marine tourism, transport and fishing industries, we are also supporting the many coastal and regional communities who rely on these businesses for their economies.”
Mr McCormack said the Australian Government’s 2018 commitment that no levy would be charged to industry for the first three years of AMSA’s delivery of National System services had now been extended by another year, meaning no levy will be charged in 2021-22.
He said the new funding increased the Government’s contribution to the National System to $76 million and total funding by all governments to $123 million.
“The National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety provides a consistent approach to safety for owners, operators and crew of commercial vessels working in Australia, supporting better mobility between jurisdictions, efficient service delivery and increased certainty for industry,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“This critical funding will ensure AMSA can continue to deliver vital safety regulation for our maritime industries under the system, upholding our nation’s strong maritime safety record while the charging review is being undertaken.
“Safety standards and services should not be compromised as a result of this global pandemic, or by deferring the charging review, which is why our Government is making sure AMSA has the funding it needs.”
Mr McCormack said the Government remained committed to reviewing all costs and charges, including wide public consultation.
“Industry’s views are absolutely critical to us to ensure we get the best outcomes with this review and that’s exactly why we are delaying the review of costs and charges,” he said.
The review is now expected to start in mid-2021 and be completed by the year’s end.
Mr McCormack said the delay would also give AMSA more time to continue building nationally consistent data on key safety risks and delivery of the National System to better inform the review.
The latest relief announcement builds on the Government’s recent continuation of automatic extensions for international domestic seafarer certificates until at least 31 January 2021.
“That means if a seafarer’s certificate expires between 26 March 2020 and 31 January 2021, they will automatically receive an extension at no cost and with no application required,” he said.
“We know this year has been a very difficult period for our maritime sector, which is why we are committed to standing side by side with them to ensure they bounce back stronger than ever.”