Ms O'CONNOR - At the GBE Estimates hearings a couple of years ago we had quite a robust discussion about the conditions of carriage. I am wondering if the conditions of carriage have changed since the last Government Business Estimates hearings. I can't find the copy that I brought into that conversation we had, Mr Grainger; but the first question is, can you confirm there's been some changes to the conditions of carriage? In the document I had a couple of years ago it was quite explicit that the company accepted no liability. I can't find it in this conditions of carriage document.
Mr DWYER - I am not aware that we've changed any conditions of carriage. I think they are still the same as you saw last time.
Mr GRAINGER - We have made comparisons with other RoPax ferry operators.
Mr DWYER - We know just about all the other major ferry operators have the same conditions of carriage, which lines up with insurance policies and everything else. I don't believe we've changed any conditions of carriage.
Ms O'CONNOR - Maybe it is just the font, Mr Dwyer. Over the passing of the years.
Special condition (b) of the conditions of carriage takes passengers through a series of steps about how animals will be transported. Then there's a clause about people who insist on putting their animals in their vehicle. But it also says 'If you do this you irrevocably release and indemnify us from any liability arising out of or in any way connected with the transport of the animal'. So, at some level - notwithstanding the conditions of carriage - there's acceptance from the company's perspective that liability issues may potentially arise but the disclaimer against any liability is not absolute is it?
Mr DWYER - I think it is.
Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. So, we're answering this question, putting aside that contentious issue.
Mr DWYER - We are trying to work out whether you're talking about our freight conditions or about passengers?
Ms O'CONNOR - Freight - animal freight.
Mr DWYER - There are two different things; to clarify, if I may - there are people carrying animals via freight, and there are also people carrying domestic animals.
Ms O'CONNOR - Their pets.
Mr DWYER - Yes. Freight is very clear.
Ms O'CONNOR - I see. Are you confirming then, that the company accepts it may have a liability if something happened to a domestic animal that was being transported; but the distinction is - and clear me up when I'm finished so I can get the sentence out - for animals transported by freight, then the company in its conditions of carriage states it has no liability should something happen to those animals?
Mr DWYER - I will double check that we don't have any liability whether it's freight or passenger or animal. I think you are trying to draw the fact that we have a distinction between somebody putting a pet in cages and somebody who's putting a pet in a vehicle - I think that's where you started.
Ms O'CONNOR - I am trying to discern, and thanks, Chair, for letting me continue, and get some clarity around this. I am trying to discern what liability, if any, TT-Line carries should something happen to an animal on the vessel and it became clear that that was something to do with the operations of the vessel. At some level there must be acknowledgement that there is a potential liability, because at clause (c)(1) in Special Condition (b), there is a statement that if someone decides they want to transport their dog in their car and something happens to the dog, then that person irrevocably releases and indemnifies TT-Line from any liability. So, there's an acknowledgement is there - at an unwritten, almost a subterranean level - that there's potential liability, depending on the circumstances?
Mr DWYER - Could I get some technical advice?
Mr FERGUSON - If you're comfortable answering, please do; but it might be a candidate that we should take on notice and get the advice that the member's looking for.
Mr DWYER - I would prefer to provide technical advice to the minister on notice if that's alright?
Mr FERGUSON - Quite plainly it is a legal question and you're asking about a legal interpretation. I am not sure it would be wise for us to be even offering one in a public hearing. It might be wise, if you're prepared, to place it on notice. Then we're more than happy to take it on notice and provide the best possible answer we can in the circumstances.