Think tank urges scrapping of coastal shipping laws

By Margaret Bux
clock 3 min

Australia’s new coastal shipping laws are “anti-competitive” and are “hurting Australian producers” the Institute of Public Affairs has warned and has urged the Abbott government to repeal them.

“Coastal shipping has become less competitive due to the Labor government’s 2009 changes that imposed Australian award wages on foreign vessels employing foreign crews,” said Aaron Lane, a research fellow at the Institute specialising in economics and industrial relations.

“The 2012 changes introduced around 250 pages of new legislation. Flexibility is critical for the coastal shipping industry, yet changes to the laws have increased the burden of red tape on coastal shipping vessels,” Mr Lane argued.

He has recently authored a report, released by the Institute in the days before Christmas, titled: “Coastal Shipping Reform: Industry saviour or regulatory nightmare?”

Mr Lane reviewed a variety of position papers and submissions from industry before concluding that the Australian economy has suffered a loss of between $76m and $150m as a result of coastal trading reforms. He also criticised the basis of the reforms – that of boosting the Australian flag. He argued that the focus of the reforms ought to have been on increasing the efficiency of commodities transport.

Australian Shipowners Association (ASA) Executive Director, Teresa Lloyd, described Mr Lane’s report as “disappointing”.

“What is frustrating, however, is when well resourced, research specialists fail to apply their considerable expertise to providing a proper, thorough analysis that takes into account the sophisticated intellectual arguments that are required for meaningful debate on complex issues such as shipping.”

Meanwhile, Australian lawyer, Robert Springall, has since described the effects of the coastal trading package as a “disaster”. “In practical terms, the main effect of the new legislation appears to have been to allow general licence holders operating on the Australian coast to hold the Australian industry to ransom,” Mr Springall asserted.


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