Ports Australia points to absence of shipping in productivity report

Gallacher recommends legislative reform to improve competitiveness of shipping with other freight modes

Ports Australia points to absence of shipping in productivity report
Gallacher says domestic sea freight is hugely significant to the future prosperity of Australia.


Ports Australia has highlighted the "glaring absence" of any mention of the domestic sea freight as a tool to improve functioning of cities in the recent review by the Productivity Commission.

While Ports Australia CEO Mike Gallacher appreciates the "fantastic" suggestions to some of the key challenges Australian cities will face in the near future, he says the conspicuous absence of any mention of shipping and ports should be a warning to the government.

Gallacher does not blame the Productivity Commission for it, instead highlighting the lack of proper government focus in this sector.

"The absence of domestic sea freight is not the fault of the Productivity Commission but instead a sign that the port sector has been so hamstrung by government that it no longer registers as a viable tool to improve everyday life," he says.

"Domestic shipping via our ports is a whole other mode of transport that is ready and waiting, the ‘blue-highway’ has no construction or maintenance costs for Australians and is not constrained by the capacity of our available land."

Gallacher calls for a legislative reform to improve competitiveness of the shipping sector with other modes of freight transport.

The current legislation restricts the ability of foreign flagged vessels to visit multiple Australian ports warping the competitiveness of Australian shipping to a point where it is not competitive with other modes of freight, Ports Australia states.

"Simple legislative reform should be the first step towards improving our cities, it would shave hundreds of millions from infrastructure capital costs and maintenance projects around the country," he says. 

"Improving domestic sea freight legislation known as Coastal Shipping, will allow Australia to move more freight around the country more efficiently without the pressures on infrastructure moving unnecessary amounts out of our cities by land.

"The government has taken initial steps to ease the administrative burden on the shipping sector through draft legislation currently under review by the Senate. 

"The proposed changes are a start but need to go much further to have an impact of the day to day lives of Australians.

"I remain confident that the forthcoming Inquiry into the national freight and supply chain priorities by Infrastructure Australia, will be the first acknowledgement by government that domestic sea freight is a hugely significant to the future prosperity of the nation particularly in regional Australia, and this will start the meaningful debate on making it happen."

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