Today I introduced legislation which represents some of the biggest maritime reforms in Australia's history.
The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill 2012 creates a single national maritime regulator and a national safety system for domestic commercial vessels.
This legislation replaces eight existing federal, state and territory regulators with one National Marine Safety Regulator; the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
This Bill will replace 50 pieces of legislation in seven jurisdictions with a single national law, providing clarity and consistency for Australia's seafarers and commercial vessel owners.
In 2009 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a national approach in regulating the safety of domestic commercial vessels in Australia.
Three years of hard work, by all jurisdictions and industry stakeholders has delivered this Bill.
This Bill establishes AMSA as the National Maritime Regulator, with responsibility not only for the large commercial vessels that undertake overseas voyages, but now also for the domestic commercial vessels that work around our coast.
Importantly, this Bill establishes one single national system for marine safety regulation.
The impact of this in practical terms is that marine safety standards will be consistent and consistently applied across the country.
This means that people who rely on domestic commercial vessels for their livelihoods or as a means of transport can be confident that every commercial vessel, wherever it is in Australian waters, will be required to meet the same nationally agreed safety standards.
It means that people who design and build commercial vessels in one jurisdiction do not have to have that vessel re-certified each time they sail into a different jurisdiction's water.
This also means that companies who operate national businesses and have vessels in more than one state will not have to grapple with different regulatory and administrative requirements to manage their fleet and their crew.
There are no borders on the water - there is no reason our regulatory system needs to create artificial boundaries.
Fundamental to this reform and the benefits that it offers is that it is a cooperative reform.
All states and territories have actively participated in developing the legislation.
In the future, existing State and Territory regulators will deliver National Law functions under the delegation of AMSA.
The benefits of this approach are many.
The National Regulator will be able to draw on the extensive knowledge and experience that is housed in the state regulatory authorities; stakeholders will not lose the contacts they have come to rely on; there will be an opportunity to share knowledge and approaches across state and territory boundaries - but at the same time stakeholders will reap the benefits of national consistency and transparency.
National reform is not easy and this reform has been no different.
I would also like to thank the many parties who have given generously of their time, their knowledge and their experience.
Stakeholder support for this reform is very strong.
This is no surprise - the benefits it will offer to the Australian economy and to Australians who own, run, work or travel on domestic commercial vessels are undeniable.
As the Transport Minister I have had the privilege to undertake the most comprehensive reform of the maritime sector in Australia's history.
This Bill, the shipping reform Bills and the Navigation Bill position Australia to make the most of its future as a shipping nation while ensuring that safety of vessels and those who sail upon them as well as the protection of our treasured marine environment is paramount.
I commend this Bill to the House.