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Focus area E1: Working with international organisations and other nations

See: Performance measure E1.1

AMSA continued to influence international standards through our work at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Australian government agencies collectively made 21 submissions to the IMO during 2019–20. AMSA worked with government to make 14 submission to the following sessions:

  • five submissions to the 7th Subcommittee on the Carriage of Cargoes and Containers relating to International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes code amendments and Australian industry’s self-heating research project
  • three submissions to the 7th Subcommittee on Navigation, Communication Search and Rescue on amendments to the existing two-way route in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, revised guideless for vessel traffic services and the introduction of additional Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) mobile satellite service providers
  • one submission to the 7th Subcommittee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping announcing the publication of fatigue guidelines for the Australian industry.
  • one submission to the 7th Marine Environment Pollution Committee to propose a new output concerning a review of the 2014 Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping
  • two submissions to the 32nd extraordinary session of Council to advocate for reform at the IMO (see case study: IMO Category B re-election and Council Reform, page 63) and
  • two submissions to the 16th Joint IMO/International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, in person sessions of the IMO were postponed; AMSA continued to lead Australia’s participation in the virtual meetings held by the IMO. The 32nd extraordinary session of Council proceeded by virtual/remote means and is due to conclude in early August 2020. Key issues include the priority of meetings for the remainder of the biennium, a revised schedule for the IMO Member State Audit Scheme, options for remote meetings and facilitation issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) Council met remotely on 3 and 4 June 2020 and Australia’s country statement covered:

  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australia’s aids to navigation maintenance
  • the impact of climate change on Australia’s aids to navigation network
  • discontinuation of Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS)
  • Australia / New Zealand Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) Project
  • Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) matters.

AMSA participated in the ICAO Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) Advisory Group web meeting on 4 June 2020, which focussed on Autonomous Distress Tracking (ADT) developments and submitted the annual review of Australia’s aviation SAR self-assessment to the ICAO Regional Office.

Case study: IMO Category B re-election and Council Reform

The Australian delegation to IMO  Elisa Boughton; Brad Groves, AMSA GM Standards; Matthew McGregor; His Excellency The Honourable George Brandis QC, Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; AMSA CEO Mick Kinley; Annalisse Sly; and Jess Hall, Executive Director Surface Transport Policy, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.
The Australian delegation to IMO. L-R: Elisa Boughton; Brad Groves, AMSA GM Standards; Matthew McGregor; His Excellency The Honourable George Brandis QC, Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; AMSA CEO Mick Kinley; Annalisse Sly; and Jess Hall, Executive Director Surface Transport Policy, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.
On 29 November 2019 Australia was successfully re-elected to Category B of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with the highest number of votes in the category. Category B of the IMO holds the 10 nations with the largest interest in seaborne trade, and reinforces Australia’s position as a maritime nation—Australia is among the largest bulk commodities exporters globally.

The IMO is an international organisation operating under the United Nations, with responsibility for establishing global standards for maritime issues including safety, international shipping and environmental performance. Member states come together to create a regulatory framework for states to adopt to ensure fair and efficient shipping.

Australia currently chairs the Maritime Safety Committee, and successfully championed the creation of a working group with nations such as Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Canada, Georgia, Guatemala, Islamic Republic of Iran, Jamaica, Spain, Ukraine, and United Arab Emirates to develop reforms to the IMO Council for the purpose of creating a progressive, transparent and inclusive organisation. Australia’s reform proposal focus on four key areas:

  • openness and transparency
  • Council’s involvement in policy and strategic direction of the organisation
  • the size, framework and terms of Council
  • streamline and focus the assessments of applications for consultative status.

In 2019 IMO adopted new media guidance to provide increased access to IMO meetings for accredited media bodies. This will ensure that the IMO is open and accountable to its stakeholders and maintains credibility and public confidence. The 31st session of the Assembly agreed to increase Council’s size (from 40 to 52 members) and extend terms to four years. This will ensure that Council remains balanced and represents the full range of member state interests.
The reform process is ongoing and Australia’s continued leadership will improve regional representation, and encourage an inclusive and democratic organisation well equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century.