Grandfathering of vessel survey requirements tipped to end

When the National marine safety system was established in July 2013 the federal government agreed to ‘grandfather’ existing vessels from immediate application of the new marine regulations (with some exceptions). Grandfathering allows a vessel to operate as it was prior to July 2013 so long as the vessel was not modified and continued to operate in the same way.

A recent Productivity Commission review into the impact of introducing the National marine safety system has recommended the removal of grandfathering where the safety benefits of doing so exceed the costs to industry (and government).

There was also the view that grandfathering may create an incentive for owners to hold on to older vessels.

The government has responded suggesting any approach to changing grandfathering would need to be gradual, informed by evidence, proper risk analysis and be reasonable in terms of cost to industry.

Industry members on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority National Safety Committee noted current standards under the national marine safety system are complex and impediments should be removed to incentivise the modernisation of the Australian inshore fleet. There was willingness by owners in some sectors of the marine industry to move away from the grandfathering arrangements, however building new vessels to comply with current standards at a manageable cost was difficult.

The National Safety Committee expressed a willingness to continue working through this issue with AMSA in more detail in future.