Independent Review of Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety Legislation and Costs and Charging Arrangements

There have been a number of inquiries by Senate Committees and the Productivity Commission into aspects of maritime safety regulation. The Australian Government established an Independent Review, in response to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) Committee's Inquiry into the Performance of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). View the Terms of Reference for the Independent Review.

The Review

In January 2022 the Government commissioned a comprehensive Independent Review of the National Law and associated legislative framework. The National System is Australia's regulatory framework to ensure the safe design, construction, equipping, crewing and operation of Domestic Commercial Vessels operating in Australian waters.

During the course of the Review, the Independent Review Panel consulted with stakeholders, receiving feedback from government agencies, industry and unions through both written submissions and verbal engagement. This included consultation on a draft interim safety report in August 2022.

The Review Panel has finalised its findings and recommendations in relation to the improvements to safety legislation, following extensive consultation with industry and government stakeholders. The Review Panel's findings and recommendations have now been supplied to the Government for consideration.

The Review Panel has also considered matters relating to the delivery costs for the National System and future funding options. Initial thinking has been provided to the Australian Transport Safety and Investigation Bodies Financial Sustainability Review announced in the 2023–24 Budget, which will now take consideration of the delivery costs for the National System and future funding options.

You can view the relevant documentation and public responses to the Review by following the links below.

The reports below are the Independent Review Panel's views and do not represent Government policy.

The Government will prepare a response to the Review Panel's findings and recommendations, and further industry consultation is anticipated as part of this process.

Safety Legislation

Costs and Charging Arrangements

The Independent Review Panel


Ms Carolyn Walsh

Ms Carolyn Walsh is the Chair of the National Transport Commission and has extensive public service experience, including in the NSW Government as Chief Executive of the Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator, and as Executive Director for the Office of the Coordinator General of Rail. She has also held several positions within the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

Her experience as a Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Board Member of NSW WorkCover was directly relevant to considerations of the broader legislative and operational contexts for domestic commercial vessel safety.

Ms Walsh's particular expertise in safety and risk more broadly provided outstanding support to the Review's focus on improving commercial vessel safety outcomes, and helped ensure the Review's exploration of costs and charges maintained due focus on safety policy objectives.


Mr John Harrison

Mr John Harrison has extensive experience working in Australian marine businesses and advising government on matters impacting Australia's domestic commercial vessel industries, particularly in fishing sectors.

Mr Harrison has held a number of senior roles including as Chief Executive of Western Australian Fishing Industry Council and as a member of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution Board. He was also a member of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's former fishing industry advisory committee.

He was the inaugural Executive Chair of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation's Seafood Industry Safety Initiative program.

Mr Harrison's lived experience in the fishing industry and passion for improving industry safety brought a real-world perspective to consultation and consideration of laws and cost options.

Mr Lembit Suur

Mr Lembit Suur

In February 2023, Mr Lembit Suur was appointed to the Panel for the remainder of the Review.

Mr Lembit Suur has held a number of senior roles in the public sector including as First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Finance, working on national governance and Budget issues, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal. He led development of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and the 2008-09 expenditure review taskforce for the national Budget. Since leaving the public sector, Mr Suur started his own governance practice and innovation consultancy.

Mr Suur's skills and experience in public financial management enabled him to provide an informed perspective on the delivery costs of the National System and charging options for effective and sustainable regulation for domestic commercial vessels.

Mr Suur's professional experience also includes Chair of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) Board Audit and Risk Committee, Chair of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency's Audit and Risk Committee, Chair of Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Performance and Results Network, and serving on diplomatic postings in Mauritius and Moscow. He has led public management reform projects in Thailand, Indonesia and the Pacific.

Mr Michael Carmody

Mr Michael Carmody AO (Phase 1 Only)

Mr Michael Carmody stepped down from the Panel for personal reasons. We thank Mr Carmody for his significant contribution to Phase 1 of the Review.

Mr Michael Carmody AO has held several senior roles in government including as Commissioner of Taxation, CEO of the Australian Customs Service and Inspector of Transport Security.

During his time as Commissioner, he was highly regarded internationally for what was viewed as an innovative approach to tax administration. During his almost 13-year career as Federal Commissioner of Taxation, Mr Carmody oversaw the modernisation of the Australian Taxation Office, the implementation of a number of significant reforms to the Australian taxation system, and the design and implementation of a new compliance management program.

Mr Carmody applied his skills and experience to provide expert, impartial advice to government on the effectiveness of the maritime safety regulation and how to improve it, and an informed perspective on associated delivery costs and charging options.