Historic Shipwrecks (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

14 February 2017

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 17:08 ): I rise to speak on the Historic Shipwrecks (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2016. 

I would like to advise that I am the lead speaker on this bill. It is the first time that I have been a lead speaker, and what a riveting bill with which I get to start my shadow ministerial career. This is a fairly straightforward piece of legislation and I will not be speaking about it at length, apart from making a few brief remarks to indicate to the house that the Liberal Party will be supporting this bill, as we did when it moved through the other place a couple of months ago. The bill before us is essentially a piece of legislation which seeks to update an earlier bill to make some contemporary modifications to the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981. 

It is quite interesting to look through the history of this legislation. The 1981 act, the original act, was brought into law following the 1976 commonwealth legislation for shipwrecks in commonwealth waters, which itself was really initiated in response to the growth in scuba diving in Australia and people's interest in historic shipwrecks that lie off the coast of Australia. There was concern that these shipwrecks were being damaged, that some of them were being plundered, as people were more and more able to access them. The commonwealth legislation came in in 1976 and corresponding state legislation was introduced in 1981. 

The miscellaneous amendment bill has its genesis following the introduction of marine parks in South Australia. With marine parks, there has been more vigilance around the policing of what happens within these parks, and that has led to more attention being paid around what happens to the shipwrecks that lie off South Australia's coast, in particular the wreck of the Zanoni, a 135‑year‑old vessel located off the coast of Ardrossan and found in the offshore Ardrossan marine park sanctuary zone. 

That wreck is one of the most complete examples of a merchant vessel shipwreck in South Australia and possibly in Australia. Wrecks such as the Zanoni are fragile, and activities such as dropping an anchor or lying near them can cause damage. Recent prosecutions show that the compliance provisions and penalties under the act are outdated, and these prosecutions came up as a result of increased policing around those marine park sites, particularly in relation to the Zanoni. 

The miscellaneous amendment act looks to update the current penalties found in the 1981 act, increase them to be more in line with modern-day expectations, and make the penalties required for breaching the provisions of the act more substantial. Obviously, in 1981 the figures were quite substantial, but that has dropped off as the value of our currency has changed over time. 

As well as making some updates to the financial penalties under the act, the miscellaneous amendment bill also makes a few other minor amendments, including the streamlining of the declaration of historic shipwrecks, historic relics and protected zones under sections 4A, 5, 6 and 7 of the act. It makes changes under section 22 of the act in relation to the powers of inspectors, which are being rewritten and broadened to bring them into line with other contemporary pieces of legislation containing similar provisions. There are also some changes made in relation to delegation, amending the minister's ability to delegate any duties, functions or powers conferred to him or her under other acts. 

With that brief overview of this piece of legislation, I would like to reiterate Liberal Party's support for the legislation and commend it to the house. 

Extracted from Hansard