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Release of information paper on Cabotage.

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24 November 2000 A187/2000


The Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, today approved the release of an information paper on the application of the Coastal Trade Licence and Permit System commonly known as Cabotage.

“In light of both the recent Federal Court case where Justice Kenny dismissed all claims made by the maritime unions, and the continuing high level of misunderstanding in the industry as to the scope of cabotage, I asked my Department to prepare an information paper on the application of the current Cabotage regime,” Mr Anderson said.

“There are still perceptions that the Cabotage regime operating in Australia is directed at reserving the coastal trade for Australian crewed and operated vessels.  As the information paper makes clear, the legislation, which has been in place for well over 50 years, provides shippers with access to the movement of coastal cargo irrespective of a vessel’s flag, nationality of the operator and nationality of crew.

“During the years of the Labor Government, the maritime unions were able to convince the industry and the general public that the legislation ensured that vessels crewed by Australians were given preference in the carriage of domestic cargo.  This is now being shown to be false.”

Mr Anderson said that the Labor Party and the maritime unions seek to give the impression that there are only two possibilities in relation to the movement of domestic cargo, that is, Australian ships or foreign ships. 

“What the Labor Party and the maritime unions fail to understand is that there is a third possibility. A buyer will source product overseas if it can be landed at a lower cost than domestic product moved around the Australian coast.

“The Government’s policy is to ensure that this does not occur,” Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson also restated that Australia is a shipper nation not a shipping nation.

Copies of the information paper are available from Mr Anderson’s office.

Media Contact: Paul Chamberlin: (02) 6277 7680 / (0419) 233 989

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Tuesday, 28 November 2000