Albanese pledges action on shipping

Albanese makes election pledges to improve the shipping industry, gaining the support of the ASA

By Rob McKay | August 16, 2010

Australia’s forgotten and neglected freight transport mode, shipping, looks set fair for some sort of revival no matter who wins the next election.

After three years of bipartisan industry consultation and interdepartmental negotiation, particularly with Treasury, federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese released Labor’s pre-election policy on Friday with pledges that have drawn a warm response from peak body the Australian Shipowners Association (ASA).

Albanese’s pledge to ensure coastal trade "is undertaken by Australian operated companies and crewed by Australian residents, with the capacity to utilise foreign flagged and crewed vessels to supplement the Australian fleet" appears to endorse the status quo.

The Maritime Union of Australia opposes any coastal trade by foreign-flagged ships.

Otherwise, many crucial industry proposals have been backed, including:

· Australian registered ships will be able to pay a tonnage tax - a low flat tax based on the weight of ships;

· mandatory training requirements in order for shipping companies to be eligible for the new tonnage tax;

· Australian International Shipping Register to facilitate Australian participation in international shipping;

· a Maritime Workforce Development Forum of industry, unions and education providers to improve and increase access to maritime training.

"The implementation of these measures will be conditional on a compact between industry and unions to deliver labour productivity and efficiency reforms," Albanese says.

"The Government will provide appropriate lead times and consult with industry ahead of implementation."

The ASA has lobbied for these changes for many years and has welcomed the pledges as a start towards a revival.

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