Second Reading: Adjourned debate on second reading continued from 22 September 2016.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 16:32 ): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this very uncontentious piece of legislation. This bill amends the Historic Shipwrecks Act to update protections for South Australia's shipwrecks and relics of historic importance. The original Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981 was introduced to protect South Australian shipwrecks and relics from removal, damage and exploitation. Currently, as I understand it, any wreck in South Australian waters that is at least 75 years old is automatically classified as historic and is protected under the act. There are other provisions under which the minister may also make a declaration regarding a shipwreck prior to that 75-year period.
In 1976, the federal government recognised the need to protect the integrity and future of shipwrecks and introduced the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 and South Australia followed suit a few years later, with the express purpose of protecting those vessels that are in South Australian waters. South Australia currently has two protected zones, one for the recreational dive site of the HMAS Hobart and one for the Zanoni, a 135-year-old vessel located somewhere near Ardrossan, which is the most complete 19th century merchant ship wrecked in South Australia.
The government has advised that since the introduction of marine park sanctuary zones, DEWNR has become more aware of illegal activities in and around the zones. Indeed, I note from the budget estimates process this year that, when the minister was specifically asked about marine parks, this matter of the historic shipwrecks breaches came up. On 1 August in Estimates Committee B, minister Hunter was replying to a question from the member for Hammond in relation to marine park expiations. Part way through his reply, the minister said:
…there were a number of incidents related to a historic shipwreck. I can advise that, as of July this year, there have been over 3,000 shore based, 280 vessel and 70 aerial compliance patrols. That has resulted in the issuing of 31 educational letters…240 formal warnings, six expiations and 23 prosecutions—
which is a large number I have to say—
under the Historic Shipwrecks Act …
Clearly, a significant amount of activity has been detected through those processes. Currently, a permit is actually required to enter a zone either by vessel diving or other means. Clearly, as shipwrecks are old and delicate and continuing to deteriorate, even dropping an anchor or a fishing line may cause further damage.
They also have the tendency to be in an aggregation area for fish, so that has increased their appeal for those who would like to fish off them. However, we obviously do not want people to fish off them, so there are proposed increased penalties under the act, including the introduction of an expiation fee, which will be done by regulation. At this point, I would like to refer to the background document which I was, I think, placed on the YourSAy website. It has an overview and on page 3, at table 1, it has a number of proposed penalties. I table that, just to indicate what we, at least, have been advised the government intends to do.
There are also amendments to the powers of authorised officers, so that those officers who are authorised under the Historic Shipwrecks Act will have similar powers to those under the fisheries act and the Marine Parks Act. There are some administrative changes to enable the minister to transition classification prior to the 75-year period as well as delegation powers and amendments to information provisions of the register. It does appear from the information that the government has provided that there was appropriate consultation and that was positive.
I would like to ask the minister, when he does his summing-up or at some point in the committee stage, whether he can actually provide some detail about the fleet of compliance vessels across the different areas, those being fisheries, management for this area of historic shipwrecks, which may actually include marine and harbours staff, and the marine parks area because I think there is some confusion about how many vessels there actually are. If he can let us know where they are based and how many authorised officers there are who are able to be involved in compliance in each of those activities. With those remarks I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins.