General policy statement
The Maritime Transport Amendment Bill (the Bill) makes miscellaneous amendments to the Maritime Transport Act 1994 (the Act) that address several distinct policy objectives.
First, the Bill increases the level of compensation available to meet claims for oil pollution damage caused by a spill from an oil tanker in New Zealand waters. The Bill will enable New Zealand to accede to the Protocol of 2003 to the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992. The Protocol establishes an additional tier of compensation that can be called upon in the event of a major oil tanker spill in the waters of a contracting State.
Second, the Bill includes provisions that open the way for New Zealand to exercise its right, as a party to the Protocol of 1996 to amend the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, to make reservations that exclude limitation of liability for three different categories of maritime claim. Reservations may exclude limitation for claims relating to: wreck removal; cargo removal; damage caused by hazardous and noxious substances. Exclusion of such claims from limitation potentially leaves more money available to meet claims for pollution damage in the event of a major maritime incident such as the grounding of the Rena. The Bill contains the provisions required to support all three types of reservation.
Third, the Bill includes, as new Part 4B, amendments that establish measures to more effectively manage the risks associated with alcohol and drug use in the commercial maritime sector. These measures:
require commercial maritime operators to have drug and alcohol and management plans to manage the risks associated with drug and alcohol use:
require the management plans to provide for random drug and alcohol testing of staff carrying out safety sensitive activities:
empower the Director (the Director) to undertake drug or alcohol testing in accordance with the testing requirements in operator management plans. This testing is not limited to random testing and can occur at any reasonable time and in any reasonable circumstances the Director considers appropriate:
provide that, in the event of a test being returned with a result other than a negative result, an operator must implement their response plan and may not permit the individual in question to perform any safety-sensitive activity until the operator determines that it is safe for the individual to do so:
require that an individual must consent to testing but the operator must respond to an individual’s refusal in the same way as it would respond to a test result that is anything other than a negative result.
The intention is that operators will implement their drug and alcohol management plans by incorporating them into employment agreements for employees, in line with the treatment of drug and alcohol testing under current employment law, and contracts for services for contractors.
Amendments to the maritime rules will establish requirements concerning the content of and procedural requirements for drug and alcohol management plans, procedural requirements for random drug and alcohol testing, and other related matters. Existing Maritime Transport Act offence, penalty and cost recovery provisions are sufficient to cover enforcement of, and funding for, the new drug and alcohol management requirements.
The fourth group of amendments comprise miscellaneous measures intended to improve the operation of existing provisions of the Act and address minor anomalies. The Bill includes amendments to:
amend a number of the Minister of Transport’s maritime rule making powers in section 36(1) of the Act to provide more flexibility for rules to
“provide for” rather than to
“prescribe” matters in respect of which the Minister may make maritime rules. The effect, in conjunction with section 451(4) of the Act, is to make maritime rules more flexible in what they can require or provide:
allow regional councils to retain fees from infringement offence notices issued for breaches of maritime rules, to provide an incentive for councils to enforce the national rules directly rather than replicate them in local bylaws:
improve access to coastal shipping services to non-mainland ports by allowing for foreign-registered ships to carry freight to and from New Zealand’s offshore islands, including the Chatham Islands:
amend section 452(5) of the Act so that only the Head Office of Maritime NZ is required to hold copies of all documents incorporated in maritime and marine protection rules:
amend section 33X(1) of the Act to enable territorial authorities to transfer responsibilities in relation to maritime activity to council-controlled organisations and port operators:
clarify that powers transferred to a public authority under section 33X of the Act can be varied or withdrawn, by mirroring the relevant process from the Local Government Act 2002:
enable territorial authorities to transfer their powers to carry out harbour works under section 33I(1)(b) of the Act to another public authority:
clarify the wording of section 388(n) of the Act to enable the Director to issue guidelines consistent with requirements and procedures under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004:
clarify the definition of
“marine protection product” in section 225 of the Act, for the purposes of marine protection rules.