Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has today told a Senate inquiry that the government's proposed Revitalising Australian Shipping legislation can save the Australian shipping industry from an otherwise terminal decline.
Speaking after fronting the Economic Legislation Committee in Canberra today, Mr Crumlin said he hoped Senators on the committee now agreed how vital the new shipping reform laws would be to the shipping industry and the wider economy.
"The MUA strongly supports these bills. Quite simply, without this legislation Australian shipping will continue to wither and decline as it has been doing since 1996," Mr Crumlin said.
"The number of Australian licensed trading vessels has been allowed to decrease at an alarming rate - from 55 in 1996 to below 25 now. This must be turned around in the national interest.
"Shipping shifts nearly a billion tonnes of iron ore, coal, wheat and other goods in and out of Australian ports every year. This volume is growing but as a nation, we've lost a stake in this vital industry.
"Sadly, what you observe when you look out to sea are rarely Australian ships - as there isn't enough incentive for investment in Australian shipping.
"The five shipping reform Bills before the Parliament will restore fairness and transparency to the way shipping participates in the domestic freight market.
"They also provide a greenfield opportunity for Australian business to participate in international shipping which is designed to encourage greater Australian participation in international trade and to leverage economic benefit to Australia from that participation.
"Through establishing a fair and transparent regulatory framework, which balances the requirements of ship owners and operators on one hand with shippers on the other, the government will be promoting healthier competition.
"This package is actually likely to result in new shipping entrants into what are currently monopoly markets.
"Today's appearance follows some negative submissions from industry players who would prefer to keep the current deregulated environment - a race to the bottom.
"The sooner these laws are introduced the better. It has been a long process of development of this legislation and the committee should strongly recommendthat it be implemented on July 1, 2012."
Media Contact: Darrin Barnett 0428 119 703
Economics - Legislation Committee
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