Australia has ‘lost’ its shipping industry


Senate calls on government to engage the Productivity Commission to review the Australian domestic shipping industry

Australia has ‘lost’ its shipping industry
Government data shows only marginal growth in the domestic shipping sector as opposed to road and rail transport

 

Pointing to a government analysis that predicts a constant slowdown in freight levels by boat compared to road and rail by 2040, South Australia Senator Bob Day highlights the importance of an immediate productivity review of the Australian domestic shipping industry.

The government data shows marginal growth in the domestic shipping sector as opposed to road and rail transport, both of which reflect a steady growth.

It is predicted that by 2040 domestic shipping freight task will be less than 150 billion tonne kilometres compared to rail and road freight tasks which will grow up to 600 billion tonne kilometres and over 400 billion tonne kilometres respectively.

New South Wales Senator David Leyonhjelm and Senator Day have moved a motion calling on the government to engage the Productivity Commission to review the Australian domestic shipping industry and report on:

(a) The impediments to productivity in the sector;

(b) Any consequential impacts on the productivity of the Australian agricultural, resources or other sectors arising from those impediments; and

(c) Whether aspects of the European ‘Motorways of the Sea’ system could deliver productivity benefits to the Australian economy and domestic shipping.

The government is due to vote on the motion in February 2016, however, Senator Day urges the government to immediately direct the Productivity Commission to find the roadblocks in coastal shipping in Australia.

"It does not make sense to let shipping freight decline, wherever possible we should have competitive neutrality between transport modes. At present, we don’t," Senator Day says.

Last week during a Federal Court hearing between the Maritime Union and the Turnbull government over the fate of the crew of Alcoa’s MV Portland cargo ship, Judge Steven Rares referred to the Australian domestic shipping industry as ‘internationally uncompetitive’ – a fitting assessment of the country’s shipping sector.

Judge Rares also said that "we have lost our shipping industry – whatever little we had, it’s gone down".

Referring to Judge Rares’ words, Senator Day calls for a timely assessment of the coastal shipping sector to maintain its viability.

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