Maritime Bill will protect crews and coastline

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today welcomed the passing of the Maritime Transport Amendment Bill’s third reading by Parliament.

“This is a significant piece of legislation that will support maritime safety and tackle pollution,” said Minister Genter.

“The Bill will ensure that in the event of an oil spill from a tanker there is significantly more compensation made available to deal with any clean up.

“This is about ensuring that those responsible for oil spills cover the cost, not the New Zealand taxpayer.

“The Bill increases the potential compensation available for oil spills from around $411 million to just over $1.540 billion.

“The new Government also made some changes to the Bill to reflect feedback we heard during the select committee process.

“This included removing proposed amendments that would have allowed foreign-flagged vessels to start carrying cargo to the Chatham Islands.

“This would have created unfair competition that might have undermined a lifeline to the Chathams.

“Foreign vessels aren’t subject to the same conditions as domestic vessels, such as GST and New Zealand labour laws, so would have had an unfair advantage over domestic services.

“We also removed the unnecessary requirement in the Bill for all maritime operators to undertake mandatory drug and alcohol testing.

“Large industry players are already undertaking drug and alcohol testing. The previous government failed to present evidence that impairment was a big enough problem to justify making all small operators undertake testing.

“We’ve instead adopted a more reasonable approach that allows the Director of Maritime NZ to carry out non-notified drug and alcohol testing of people in safety sensitive positions.

“The Bill also includes technical amendments that will increase the flexibility of rule-making and improve the serviceability of the Act into the future,” says Minister Genter.