Australian Government Urged to Safeguard Nation's Maritime Skills

By George Backwell
Friday, July 04, 2014
Ship's officer: File photo

The Australian Shipowners Association (ASA) informs it has urged the Abbott Government to be careful in its consideration of the Productivity Commission Report into Tasmanian shipping and freight, as there are still concerns about any recommendation to deregulate access to coastal shipping services.

ASA explain that the retention of the Tasmanian Freight and Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Schemes is a sensible decision that has been well received by ASA. But there are still concerns about any recommendation to deregulate access to coastal shipping services as this will result in the loss of strategic skills in the Australian maritime workforce.

“Retaining the Equalisation Schemes recognises that Bass Strait is part of the national highway and is an appropriate fiscal policy. However, deregulating the coast and allowing foreign vessels unfettered access to carry Australian local cargo will undoubtedly result in the complete demise of Australian shipping companies and with them the skilled Australian seafarer. It would be ironic if Australia – the largest island nation – was left without professional maritime staff” Ms Lloyd stated.

“All our trading partners have entrenched coastal trading regulations and are not undertaking any debate on it. Australia, does not need to be the trailblazer in this area, instead we need to continue to invest in a strong Australian presence in coastal trade” added Ms Lloyd.

“This report is not about introducing competition, competition already exists. What this report is calling for is the substitution of professional Australian services with cheap foreign providers. Such a move would have significant consequences that reverberate well beyond the direct impact of shutting Australian shipping businesses down.”

Australian Shipowners Association
ASA represent Australian companies who own or operate international and/or domestic trading ships, cruise ships, domestic towage and salvage tugs, dredges, scientific research vessels and offshore oil and gas support vessels.  The Association also represents employers of the Australian and international maritime labour.

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