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Decision by the Seacare Authority to grant a section 20A exemption

On 22 December 2014, the Federal Court of Australia unanimously decided in the case of Samson Maritime Pty Ltd v Noel Aucote [2014] FCAFC 182 (Samson v Aucote), that sections 19(2)–(4) of the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act) extend the operation of the Seafarers Act.

In March and April 2015, the Seacare Authority issued two exemptions to all employees on ships that were brought under the scheme by virtue of Samson v Aucote. The exemptions do not impact ships that were covered under the Seafarers Act prior to the decision. These exemptions were then reissued in March and April 2017, and are due to expire on 23 March 2018 and 20 April 2018 respectively.

The Seacare Authority has agreed to grant both exemptions for a further period of 12 months from the expiry of each exemption.

Exemption 1: ships on the Australian General Register

The list of ships in Schedule 1 of the exemption is taken from the Australian General Register on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website as at 28 February 2018, as well as those vessels included on the previously issued exemption at the request of employers.

You should be aware that:

  • the exemption does not automatically exempt all ships listed in Schedule 1 from coverage under the Seafarers Act—those ships that were covered by the Seafarers Act prior to the Federal Court's decision remain covered even if they are on the list
  • the exemption takes effect from the date it is signed
  • the exemption does not apply to the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993.

An invitation to make submissions on the second exemption, incorporating those ships on the domestic commercial vessel list, will go out in the next few weeks.

Invitation to make a submission on exemption 1

The Seacare Authority is seeking submissions from the owners/operators/employers of the ships in Schedule 1 by 8.00 pm AEST on 21 March 2018. These will be considered by the Seacare Authority prior to granting the exemption.

Any owner/operator/employer that would like their ship(s) to be removed from Schedule 1 and be covered under the Seafarers Act should advise the Seacare Authority via a submission.

Submissions can be sent to seacare@comcare.gov.au or:

Section 20A Exemption
Seacare Authority
GPO Box 9905
Canberra ACT 2601.

The Australian General Register is not a comprehensive list of ships that may be covered by the Seacare scheme following Samson v Aucote. If an owner/operator/employer has ship(s) not listed in Schedule 1, but is concerned that they may be brought into the scheme following Samson v Aucote, they should make a submission and/or contact the Seacare Secretariat.

If you wish to discuss the exemption please contact the Seacare Secretariat via email seacare@comcare.gov.au or phone 02 6275 0070.

Last updated: 13 Mar 2018