MUA Backs NSW Ports Minister's Call For National Ports Plan

The MUA today backed the NSW Ports Minister Joe Tripodi's elevation of port considerations into national transport policy.

The MUA today backed the NSW Ports Minister Joe Tripodi's elevation of port considerations into national transport policy.

"The Federal Government has made it clear that it is looking to revitalize Australia's shipping industry, after the years of decline inflicted by the neglect of the Australian shipping industry by the former Howard Government and it makes great sense to make issues around ports across the country a national priority", said MUA Sydney Branch Secretary, Warren Smith.

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Local Government Anthony Albanese has commissioned a report into the future of the Australian coastal shipping industry.

Minister Tripodi's recommendations, part of NSW Government's response to the 2009 Review of the National Transport Commission (NTC), include a recommendation to hold one Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting a year to discuss strategic maritime issues and matters concerning ports and port-side links.

"It's damning that there is not already a process that brings Governments together on ports when you think of the billions of dollars of exports involved. It will improve the shipping industry focus and assist as the Government looks at incentives to get the shipping industry back on its feet", Mr Smith said, speaking to the MUA'S national policy.

"In the MUA's own submissions to the NTC review and representations to Minister Albanese, we have also recommended that the NTC charter be widened to include ports and that ports matters be elevated to the ATC process.

"We agree that there are many strategic issues related to Commonwealth and State/Territory ports policy including ports planning, access from land and sea, duplication of services that need to be considered a national level."

"However we believe that it's not the right time to consider one item on Mr Tripodi's list, "domination of wharves by two stevedores. Minister Tripodi's proposal will provide an opportunity for a co-ordinated national review of port competition, efficiency and productivity, and in particular the new stevedoring entrant strategy that has occupied the State Ports Ministers, each acting in isolation of the national interest.  The longer the GFC lasts, the more the third stevedore strategy looks flawed", Mr Smith said.

Contact: Warren Smith 0400 368945