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Monday, 28 May 2012
Page: 5684

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (13:41): I am glad the member for Throsby is pleased with what he can do for his port at Port Kembla. But for the canefarmers in North Queensland, that I represent, this bill is an absolute affront. In rising to address the Shipping Reform (Tax Incentives) Bill 2012—which has been very rushed in this place—and all of the associated bills, let me start by pointing out some of the differences between what is planned and what actually happens in this place. I do this because what the government says and what it does are often completely different things. Doing the opposite of what it says it will do is not always a deliberate strategy of this government. We know they sometimes have a genuine desire, I do admit, to achieve better outcomes for all Australians. I have no doubt they sometimes have good intentions, but through incompetence, poor judgment, rushing a decision—like they are in this case—or just plain horse-trading, often with the Greens or with the unions, they end up shooting themselves in the foot.

In this bill, they may well have had some good intentions to start with. It is obviously designed to look after the best interests of the Maritime Union of Australia and that is to be expected from a Labor government. But I do not think the government set out with the intention of inflicting serious harm on the industries that keep this nation afloat. Unfortunately, the Labor government just does not care about any harm it inflicts on any industry. It is all good fun until someone has an eye out. When the time comes that the regulations in this bill start costing jobs—which they will—and there are simply not enough people to keep paying Labor's taxes, they will come crying to this place, pointing the finger at everyone else rather than themselves.

There are a few things these bills will do—and revitalising the Australian shipping industry is certainly not one of them. This amendment will add another layer of burden, of red tape, over the entire shipping industry. I can assure you, adding red tape is not going to revitalise anything. In just over 4½ years Labor governments, under the former Prime Minister the member for Griffith and now the current Prime Minister, have introduced more than 18,000 regulations—18,000 pieces of red tape. That equates to about 11 new regulations every single day and here is another raft of them with these bills. No wonder productivity is grinding to a halt.

Right now, there is a system in place where non-Australian registered ships are granted permits to operate single and continuous voyages in Australian coastal waters. Under this new scheme, legislation requires any foreign vessels seeking a temporary licence to carry out a minimum of five voyages in the year. Well, up to 30 per cent of domestic coastal shipping is made up of foreign vessels operating on single and continual voyage permits. So this regulation is going to have quite an impact. In today's world there are global shipping companies working throughout all the world's ports. Ships are the links between exporters and importers, in many cases, and between supply and demand. They go to wherever the supply is and they deliver to wherever the demand is. If the government excludes market suppliers who wish to carry out a single coastal voyage, what the government is doing is effectively reducing competition. Is any competitive legislation going to revitalise the Australian shipping industry? I would say, hardly—it certainly will not. In fact, the reduction in competition was identified as a significant source of cost increase in a Deloitte Access Economics report that was prepared on the likely impact.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour. The member for Dawson will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.