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.
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.
Conduct of the inquiry
Details of the inquiry were made available on the committee's website.
The committee also contacted a number of organisations inviting submissions to
the inquiry. Submissions were received from seven organisations, as detailed in
The committee decided to conduct this inquiry on the basis of written
submissions and not to hold public hearings.
Structure of the report
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.
Chapter three considers the key issues identified by submitters in relation
to the bill, including the proposed:
new coverage test;
changes to workers' compensation and work, health and safety
new governance arrangements.
Compatibility with human rights
According to the bill's Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights,
the bill engages the following rights:
the right to equality and non-discrimination in Article 2 and 26
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
the right to social security in Article 9 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
the rights of persons with disabilities in Article 26 of the
Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD);
the right to safe and healthy working conditions in Article 7 of
the right to privacy in Article 17 of the ICCPR; and
the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty in Article
14 of the ICCPR.
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.
Scrutiny of Bills Committee
The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills (Scrutiny of Bills
Committee) has considered the three bills.
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.'
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.
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.
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).
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
No financial impact statement was provided.
The committee thanks those organisations who contributed to the inquiry
by preparing written submissions.
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