Australia Increases Fines for Polluters

Australia has decided to increase the fines for those polluting the country’s water, according to marine insurer West of England P&I.

The insurer said that “ship owners, charterers, masters, operators and their insurers should be aware of potential liabilities for fines in Australia on top of pollution clean up and damage claims.”

As at July 1, 2018, a majority of States (and the Northern Territory) have increased their penalty unit value in accordance with their annual indexation adjustments. The Commonwealth has also completed its three year increase of the applicable penalty unit in accordance with the consumer price index.

The State and Territory legislation and penalties apply to oil spills that are within, or migrate to within, 3 nautical miles of the coast. Beyond 3 nautical miles the Commonwealth legislation will apply.

“The discharge of oil in Commonwealth, State or Territory waters is a strict liability offence for owners and masters and potentially crew members and those involved in the operation and maintenance of the ship. The Commonwealth legislation expressly includes charterers in the list of those strictly liable.”

These penalty unit increases mean that the maximum fine for a spill in Commonwealth waters has increased to AUD 4.2 million for a master and AUD 21 million for a corporate owner or charterer.

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