Need For Ship Safety Leadership

Shipping industry can't wait until 2013 for regulatory leadership says MUA Tight window for Government action


"The agreement at the Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting last week - which will be proposed to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) - means Governments are prioritising transport, particularly shipping, but the current global financial crisis provides a real opportunity for making some major changes to provide a new platform for Australian shipping. We really need to see this national regulatory leadership taken well before 2013", said Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA.

"As the economic cycle bottoms there is a window of a year or two to make regulatory and fiscal changes to provide incentives to invest in new tonnage for the medium to longer term", Mr Crumlin said.

Mr Crumlin has represented the MUA on a Shipping Policy Advisory Group of key shipping services and commodities groups, guiding the Federal Government on responses to the "Rebuilding Australia's Coastal Shipping Industry" report produced last year by a bipartisan parliamentary committee. Among the report's key recommendations are fiscal incentives and regulatory changes to provide a level playing field for Australian shipping, including changes to the regime governing licensing and granting of permits to overseas vessels, a tax on shipping tonnage rather than profits in line with major economies overseas, and initiatives to address the skills crisis in the industry.

"Now is the time for long term countercyclical capex commitments. The new shipping policy being embraced by the Rudd government together with the move to one shipping regulator definitely adds up to a new focus.

But the detail of the incentives and the regulatory changes require need to be formulated over the next 12 months. I will be urging Minister Albanese to impress on the Prime Minister at COAG the urgency for speeding up this important reform, which is so closely linked to wider shipping policy reform.

"At the same time the significant expenditure on infrastructure in laying the foundation for real efficiencies and productivity improvement in supply chains and ports needs to be fast-tracked by federal and state infrastructure delivery."

The MUA also expressed concern that the Victorian Government had limited its endorsement of AMSA becoming the sole national regulator to "interstate maritime safety."

"Victoria's move undermines the unified national regulatory arrangements for the commercial maritime sector and the Union will be taking the matter up with Victorian Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas.

Contact: Paddy Crumlin 9267 9134