Workplace decision will 'drive up shipping costs'

Extension of workplace laws to foreign ships will push more domestic cargo onto trucks, shipping industry says

The shipping sector says an extension of the Workplace Act to all licensed and permit ships carrying coastal cargo irrespective of their nationality will push more domestic cargo onto roads and rail.

Shipping Australia CEO Llew Russell says the decision will allow foreign vessels to carry cargo previously reserved for domestic carriers.

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard announced a modified seagoing award will apply to foreign vessels on the basis foreign crew carrying Australian domestic cargo should have access to Australian industrial law.

Comparing it to land-based carriers using foreign guest workers under a permit scheme, Russell says the decision will drive up costs on operators and carbon emissions.

"In our view, the relevant implications of her [Gillard’s] proposals on a policy that, in one form or another, has been in existence in Australia since 1912, will likely be that it will drive up costs and effectively push much more domestic cargo onto road and rail," he says.

"[This will] in turn will increase rather than reduce Australia’s carbon pollution because shipping has been shown to have considerably lower CO2 emissions compared to road and rail."

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