Chapter 1

Introduction

Reference

1.1        The Seafarers and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (the bill), the Seafarers Safety and Compensation Levies Bill 2016, Seafarers Safety and Compensation Levies Collection Bill 2016 (related bills) were introduced into the House of Representatives on 13 October 2016 by the Hon. Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.[1]

1.2        On 10 November 2016, the provisions of the bills were referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 7 February 2017.[2]

Conduct of the inquiry

1.3        Details of the inquiry were made available on the committee's website.[3] The committee also contacted a number of organisations inviting submissions to the inquiry. Submissions were received from seven organisations, as detailed in
Appendix 1.

1.4        The committee decided to conduct this inquiry on the basis of written submissions and not to hold public hearings.

Structure of the report

1.5        The report focusses on issues pertaining to the Seafarers and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. This introductory chapter sets out the background to the inquiry. Chapter two of this report examines the background and detail of the bill and the existing Seacare scheme.[4]

1.6        Chapter three considers the key issues identified by submitters in relation to the bill, including the proposed:

Compatibility with human rights

1.7        According to the bill's Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights, the bill engages the following rights:

1.8        The bill's Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights also states that the bill is compatible with human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.[6]

Scrutiny of Bills Committee

1.9        The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills (Scrutiny of Bills Committee) has considered the three bills.[7] With regard to the Seafarers and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee noted that certain provisions introduce strict liability for offences with no justification in the explanatory memorandum. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee 'expects the explanatory memorandum to provide a clear justification for any imposition of strict liability, including commenting whether the approach is consistent with the Guide to Framing Commonwealth Offences, Infringement Notices and Enforcement Powers.'[8]

1.10      Furthermore, the proposed section 25M provides that the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) may make a written instrument exempting the employment of certain employees on a particular vessel from the application of the proposed Acts, without providing sufficient guidance for the administration of this discretionary power.[9]

1.11      The Scrutiny of Bills Committee also raised concerns about proposed section 25R, which provides that if the SRCC on its own initiative decides to make such an exemption, there is no right to seek merits review of that decision.[10] 

1.12      With regard to the Seafarers Safety and Compensation Levies Collection Bill 2016, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee expressed concern at the abrogation of self‑incrimination arising in subclause 9(7).[11]

1.13      The Scrutiny of Bills Committee has sought an explanation from the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash on each of these areas of concern. The committee understands that Minister Cash has provided a response to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. That committee will report to the Senate in due course.  

Financial Impact Statement

1.14      No financial impact statement was provided.

Acknowledgement

1.15      The committee thanks those organisations who contributed to the inquiry by preparing written submissions.

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