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On 22 December 2014, a Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia unanimously decided in the case of Samson Maritime Pty Ltd v Noel Aucote FCAFC 182 (The ‘Aucote decision’) that the Seacare scheme applies to all 'employees' (as defined by the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act)) of a trading, financial or foreign corporation. This decision changed the way the Seacare Authority interprets coverage provisions under the Seafarers Act.
To bring the scheme in line with the position taken by the Authority prior to the Aucote decision, the Minister for Employment at the time, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, made declarations under the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (OHS(MI) Act) and the Seafarers Act in order to limit the coverage of the Seacare scheme to what it was broadly understood to be prior to the Aucote decision. They apply to all ships that are engaged in intrastate trade and not engaged in interstate or international trade.
These declarations together with the Seacare Authority’s multiple vessel exemptions of own motion ensure that these ships are not covered by the Seacare scheme and are instead covered by state legislation, as they had been prior to the Aucote decision. These declarations commenced on 26 March 2015 and were renewed in 2017.
To clarify coverage provisions, the Minister also made two declarations under section 3A(2) declaring certain ships not to be prescribed ships for the purposes of the Seafarers Act. The Ministerial declarations can be viewed below: