Current efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef from environmental damage will be strengthened greatly by the Federal Government's shipping policy reform agenda, the Maritime Union of Australia said today.
The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese announced the shipping policy agenda, entitled Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy, late last year.
Its aim is to revitalise the Australian shipping industry, which has been weakened by competition from so-called flag of convenience ships that operate without proper regulation.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said shipping reform had a vital role to play in the government's current efforts to protect the Barrier Reef.
"The health of the Barrier Reef is currently threatened from a wide range of angles, however there is obviously a very significant potential effect from shipping," he said.
"You don't have to go too far back to see how true this is. Accidents like the Shen Neng 1 coal carrier incident in 2010 prove just how dangerous shipping can be to the natural environment if not conducted under proper regulations.
"In recent years alone, the Pasha Bulker and Rena incidents have added further evidence in this area.
"There are a huge variety of factors that Environment Minister Tony Burke needs to take into consideration in his efforts to strike a balance between environmental protection and industry regarding the Great Barrier Reef.
"It is important to note, however, that the policy agenda proposed by Mr Albanese is a very, very important piece of that puzzle.
"There are a hundred good reasons to implement this legislation as soon as possible, but none more important than ensuring that the Great Barrier Reef stays protected for future generations."