To be shipshape, maritime changes must first pass PC test
SHIPPING carries over 99% of Australia’s international cargo by weight and about 75% by value. Domestically, it represents one-quarter of our national freight task. Far-reaching changes to shipping regulations currently before the Parliament must undergo a full Productivity Commission impact assessment before becoming law.
“The Gillard government has not listened to concerns about this legislation and is asking us to take it on blind faith that they and their mates at the Maritime Union of Australia are acting in the national interest,” Nationals leader and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Warren Truss explained.
“With Australia’s freight task to double by 2030, and treble along the eastern seaboard, coastal shipping is, and will increasingly be, vital to Australia’s domestic and international transport network.
“Minister Albanese has not been able to put a figure on how much more it will cost to ship freight around our coastline under his new regime. Surely, that’s a basic equation we need to know before going on.
“According to Deloitte Access Economics these changes will inflict a $466 million burden on our economy over the next decade, with freight charges to soar by up to 16% and 570 full-time Australian jobs tossed overboard.
“Such a surge in shipping charges will undoubtedly result in a flood of imports as Australian companies find it more economical to import rather than ship product around our coastline.
“Australian businesses relying on a globally-competitive shipping sector are under siege.
“Right now it costs as much to ship products from China to Australia as it does to ship the same products from Adelaide to Port Kembla. Under these new shipping regulations Australian production will fall and will be substituted with cheaper imports.
“Australia’s sugar producers are among the most efficient on Earth, but imported sugar is already coming in from overseas because it is cheaper than shipping it from northern Australia.
“Australian cement producers are world-leaders in low emission technology, but our biggest competitors in cement – China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand – will now be able to radically undercut Australian suppliers on shipping costs alone.
“A shift to cement imports will undermine 1,800 Australian jobs in the cement industry but, paradoxically, force global CO2 emissions to skyrocket as demand switches overseas.
“Clearly, the ripple effects from these changes are far-reaching, engulfing a sea of Australian industries and the Australian jobs they support. As such, due diligence insists that they be shipped off to the Productivity Commission for full economic analysis.”
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