The Australian government revealed plans to introduce a number of reforms for foreign flagged vessels operating in Australian waters in its budget plan for 2015-2016 as it pushes to reform its coastal shipping.
The reforms include introducing a single Coastal Trading Permit for all ships to replace the current tiered system, amending legislation to allow the carriage of petroleum products along with applying a minimum Australian senior crewing requirement for foreign ships remaining on the coast for more than 183 days in a permit period.
In addition, the measures also aim at reducing monthly trade reporting requirements to annual reporting, removing exemptions for large ships from the Coastal Trading Permit requirements, better aligning employment conditions for ships based in Australia with international standards; and amending the Australian International Shipping Register to improve competition amongst foreign flagged ships.
“This measure will foster a more competitive coastal shipping industry that better supports the Australian economy by maximising the use of available shipping capacity on the Australian coast,” the government said.
“The proposed changes will breathe new life into coastal shipping,” Shipping Australia Limited’s (SAL) CEO Rod Nairn said. “This sector has languished since the 2012 Coastal Trading Act was introduced. These reforms are absolutely necessary to allow domestic goods to be efficiently carried by sea.”
“These new requirements will need to be looked at carefully by the shipping industry. They may cause a few concerns,” Nairn added.
According to industry body SAL, Australia’s major ports currently have excess capacity. Removing the strangling legislation from coastal shipping is a way of improving the efficiency of moving domestic freight without spending one cent on additional infrastructure.
“This has to be good for Australia’s economy and good for all Australians,” Nairn concluded.
On 20 May, the Hon. Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, will speak on the key aspects of new coastal shipping legislation and the consultation process on the new legislation at the Sydney Harbour Marriott.