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ACTU right to revolt over Labor's shipping disaster

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Warren Truss Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development

Media Statement

4 September 2015

ACTU right to revolt over Labor’s shipping disaster

TODAY’S Shipping Industry Summit - convened by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) - is highlighting the ‘loss of Australian ships’ and ‘the loss of jobs and supply chain reliability despite increases in the volume of the Australian domestic freight task’.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has been highlighting these concerns, noting that the rot that set in under Labor’s ill-conceived Coastal Trading Act 2012 must be stopped.

“When the Coalition was last in government the fleet of major Australian registered ships (over 2,000 dead weight tonnes) with coastal licences was 30 vessels (2006-07). When Labor left office that number had been cut in half to just 15 vessels (2013-14),” Mr Truss said.

“Ships in Australia on transitional licences are disappearing, too. When Labor’s system started there were 16, now there are just 8.

“The ACTU is right to be up in arms. That’s why the Coalition is determined to chart a better future for everyone relying on a competitive Australian shipping industry.

“While freight volumes across Australia increased by 57% from 2000 to 2012, shipping’s share of freight movements actually fell to just 17% - down from 27%.

“Looking forward, over the next 25 years Australia’s overall freight task is expected to grow by 80%. If we keep going on the course Labor set, coastal shipping is expected to plod along increasing by just 15%, and, by 2030, the industry will be a relic of a bygone era.

“Just the first two years of Labor’s Coastal Trading Act saw a 63% drop in the carrying capacity of the major Australian coastal trading fleet.

“Clearly, without serious reform shipping will not recover, let alone be able to deliver the competitive, efficient freight transport that Australian businesses need.

“The legislation I have presented to Parliament simplifies the coastal trading system and will reduce costs to business, safeguard jobs and provide greater access to competitive international shipping services.

“It includes built-in protections for Australian workers, as well as for the wages and conditions for all seafarers on foreign ships operating primarily in the Australian coasting trade.

“We are, of course, maintaining our stringent maritime safety and environmental laws, which apply to all ships operating in Australian waters.

“It will deliver more affordable freight costs for businesses and greater choice between shipping companies, which will lead to better services being provided to Australian industries.

“This means more freight and more efficient services, all of which make Australian products more competitive - internationally and domestically - saving at risk jobs on land and creating many, many more.

“The current legislation that has caused all this trouble was drafted by Labor on instruction from the unions. The ACTU, having recognised the problems, should now get on board with these necessary shipping reforms.”


Media Contact: Kate Barwick 0408 072 809