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Issue # 1414      10 June 2009

MUA calls for urgent change to handle future freight task

Australia would face an impossible task to meet a national freight target tipped to double by 2020 and triple by 2050, without making a new national shipping policy an urgent priority.

“The prediction is that post 2020 coastal shipping will experience significant coastal shipping growth with the need for greater use of efficient and low-carbon methods of transport but the establishment of a competitive Australian shipping industry must begin right now,” said Paddy Crumlin, national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). 

Speaking at the Natship09 conference in Sydney last week, Mr Crumlin launched a new platform for the revitalisation of shipping, Time for a Sea Change in Australian Shipping, calling for the federal government to adopt a comprehensive package of regulatory reforms and fiscal support without delay.

The Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese recognised the need for revitalising shipping by commissioning an inquiry into coastal shipping. Mr Crumlin was part of a Shipping Policy Advisory Group appointed by the Minister to turn the inquiry’s recommendations into a new national shipping policy.

Time for a Sea Change is probably the most important initiative adopted by the MUA. Shipping is a vital part of an integrated national freight solution and can be a great contributor to the economy,” Mr Crumlin said.

Key recommendations that the MUA is looking for the Government to act on include:

  • The promotion of Australian flagged and crewed ships in the domestic transport sector;
  • Effective tax incentives for the industry to invest in new ships;
  • Training for new seafarers to fill the skills shortage including a national maritime skills strategy;
  • Tighter regulations for coastal shipping to promote transparency and fairness of competition and guard against labour exploitation and tax avoidance by international operators;
  • A tonnage tax common in major shipping nations where shipping makes an essential economic contribution;
  • PAYE Tax reform for Australian crew on international voyages;
  • A Shipping Industry Taskforce to see policy is converted into action.

Seafarers have and will continue to deliver flexible labour relations arrangements and crewing to ensure commercial success and productivity,” Mr Crumlin said.

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