The Guardian • Issue #2040

Australian Strategic Shipping Fleet Taskforce progress

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2040

Photo: Marcel Crozet / International Labour Organization – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Australian Shipping, Strategic Fleet Taskforce – established by the Albanese Federal government to advise on the implementation of its pre-election promise to revitalise Australian shipping – has entered the second phase of its work after delivering its interim advice to the Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King MP. The Taskforce is due to present a final report to the FederalMar government by the end of June this year.

The taskforce was established in October 2022 and includes representatives from the Maritime Union of Australia, Maritime Industry Australia (representing shippers), the Department of Defence, and major shipping sector users such as Woodside Energy. The Albanese Government allocated $6.3 million in the current budget to fund its activities.

The taskforce consulted with industry in late 2022, looking to inform its high-level strategic objectives for the fleet. In a recent statement, the Taskforce is inviting a fresh round of industry consultation, this time calling for “proposals, options or ideas” for the establishment of the fleet.

Speaking to industry news outlet The DCN, a spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts explained that the Taskforce had provided its interim report to the government, which is considering the interim advice.

“As part of phase one, the taskforce sought broad stakeholder feedback on a discussion paper that assisted it to undertake an initial strategic needs assessment to help determine strategic needs the fleet could deliver,” the spokesperson said.

“As part of phase two, the taskforce is now asking stakeholders to provide specific advice on how a strategic fleet could be established, as well as any measures to help support Australian shipping more broadly.”

The taskforce is specifically seeking industry views on four points:

  • The composition of the strategic fleet;
  • Ways the fleet could be established and operate;
  • What kind of government assistance would be required to establish the fleet; and
  • Whether and to what extent legislation, such as the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012, be amended to support the fleet.

“The purpose of this broad consultation in phase two is to help the taskforce develop options to put to the government on how to establish the fleet,” the departmental spokesperson said.

“This is intended to provide all interested parties with further opportunities to engage with the taskforce following the phase one consultation. It is expected that the taskforce will undertake further specific consultation as it develops its final report.”

The Communist Party of Australia calls for the conversion of submarine building facilities to build a merchant fleet for Australia. Australia is highly reliant on shipping for trade but its merchant fleet has been decimated.

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