Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has opened up on the Abbott Government’s plans to deregulate the Australian coastal shipping.
The comments below were made as part of his speech to the Australian Logistics Council Forum on Thursday March 12.
Another issue on the current Government’s agenda that I know is important to your sector is maritime reform.
There’s an understandable push from business to lower the cost of shipping.
The current Government has made clear that it plans to roll back Labor’s coastal trading regime, which came into effect in 2012 after exhaustive consultation with industry.
Labor’s arrangements allow for foreign-flagged vessels to work Australian domestic trade routes provided no Australian vessels are available.
Conditions include the payment of Australian level wages to ensure local shipping companies can compete.
Rather than resort to the sort of protectionism we see in the US maritime sector, we did not ban foreign vessels.
Indeed, to encourage an Australian international shipping fleet, we created a new register which would see shipping companies and seafarers engaged in international trade have a zero rate of taxation.
It was a balanced package – one designed to allow the local industry to survive and, over time, to prosper.
The current Government calls these arrangements red tape and has sought to undermine the changes since before they even took effect.
Let make Labor’s position on this issue crystal clear.
When a business chooses to move freight around this nation by road, the truck driver is paid Australian level wages in accordance with Australian law.
When a business moves freight around this nation by air, the pilot is paid in accordance with Australian arrangements.
Labor believes the situation should be no different when people move freight by sea.
Allowing one mode of transport to pay third-world wages while others do not will distort the market.