Australian Government extends Domestic Commercial Vessel scheme levy-free period in surprise move

In an unexpected turn in the face of severe criticism from the local surveying profession and others associated with the maritime industry, the Australian Government government has announced an additional AUS$10 million in funding to support the launch of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety (National System). The scheme, administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), officially started on 1 July.

Last year, in response to an industry backlash over new fees and charges associated with the National System, the government promised AUS$102 million in funding over ten years and announced that no levies would be charged during the first year of the scheme’s operation.

With the additional government funding, the levy-free period has now been extended to three years.

Announcing the funding boost, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said the government remains committed to the National System delivering safety benefits for commercial boating, fishing and tourism operations across Australia.

“The Australian Government has listened to the concerns of Australia’s domestic commercial vessel industries about the cumulative impact of costs and charges on these industries. In response, I am announcing the Australian Government will provide an additional AUS$10 million funding for the national system, increasing our total contribution to AUS$65 million over ten years, and increasing total funding by all governments to AUS$112.4 million.

“This additional funding will mean no levy will be charged to industry for the first three years of AMSA’s service delivery to assist all operators as services transition.

“This will provide two more years for AMSA to engage with industry on a range of important matters.”

New fees for services provided by AMSA to individuals, such as issuing safety certification to vessels and seafarers, and accrediting marine surveyors, were also introduced on 1 July. However, the government also announced that due to “efficiencies that have already been identified” by AMSA, the fee for a new Certificate of Survey and a Certificate of Survey renewal will be reduced from $366 to $206.

A review of all costs and charges for the National System will be conducted in 2020–21, including public consultation.

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