Shipping Australia Lunch

Speech

DCS004/2017

26 April 2017

Sofital Hotel Melbourne

Let me begin by emphasising that the Turnbull-Joyce Government is committed to working with Australia's maritime stakeholders to ensure that together we foster the strong and safe growth of Australia's maritime industry.

Building our national economy through more efficient and safer supply chains is a complex and multi-layered challenge.

It requires strong partnerships and constructive engagement, across government and industry, and events such as this to act as a catalyst for productive discussion.

You know your business; you know how to grow it; you know what is placing limits on it; and what needs to be done to build a strong future.

Improving the way Australia plans, develops and manages transport infrastructure to meet long-term domestic challenges is a key part of the Coalition Government's agenda.

Our transport and infrastructure needs are growing. Between 2010 and 2030, our domestic freight task is expected to grow by 80 per cent.

Australia's freight infrastructure—roads, rail, intermodal terminals and ports—and our coastal shipping sector must not only be prepared to meet forecasted growth, it must be managed and regulated to allow it to respond to changing market forces, drive productivity and ensure our global competitiveness.

In particular, given Australia's export oriented economy, with its focus on minerals and energy, a viable shipping industry, including a sustainable coastal trading sector, is critical to the ongoing prosperity of the nation.

Only 15 per cent of Australia's domestic freight is moved by ship, but with our extensive coastline and broad network of ports, there is scope for this figure to increase.

The iconic Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail project will also better connect the ports in the North and South of Australia's east coast.

Our coastal trading sector is constrained by needless red tape, which is costing ship owners and shippers of cargo time and money.

There can be no doubt that regulations are essential for well-functioning and fair industries.

Regulations can help businesses to manage and reduce risk and operate more effectively.

But for Australia to be truly open for business, which is a key goal for the Coalition Government, regulations should be set with a clear understanding of the marketplace and greater economic ambitions.

They should be geared towards building a culture that focuses on what must go right, not what could go wrong.

The government's approach seeks to ensure that regulation is never adopted as the default solution.

We aim to get the regulatory settings right to empower rather than impede, and to foster business agility and investment, while being mindful of protecting safety.

To quote Chris Richardson, a Partner at Deloitte Access Economics:

“There is a huge payoff to the profits of Australian businesses and the incomes of our workers if we simply get out of our own way. Doing so won't just unleash business productivity—it will unleash Australia.”

As you know, just over a month ago, I released the Coastal Shipping Reforms discussion paper.

This follows months of consultations with shipping companies and businesses reliant on coastal shipping who told me the current regulatory system creates substantial red tape for industry.

The discussion paper takes a pragmatic approach to coastal shipping reform by exploring proposed amendments to the existing regime.

It is not intended to make wholesale changes to the current regime, but instead make what is there less cumbersome for users to operate.

It proposes retaining the basic structure and removing—by amendment—aspects which stakeholders report are unreasonably limiting, inflexible, or onerous.

The unambiguous objective of these proposed amendments is to ensure safe, secure and efficient coastal shipping as part of Australia's national transport system.

They include removing the five-voyage minimum for issuing temporary licences, and offering applicants the freedom to apply for individual voyages.

The paper proposes to streamline processes relating to temporary licence applications to limit unnecessary and time-consuming consultation where there are no General Licence vessels available and to replace the two types of licence variations with a single variation provision.

It contains a proposal to simplify the voyage notification requirements by only requiring notifications when voyage details have changed, and to amend the tolerance provisions to improve flexibility and drastically reduce the resources required for licence administration.

The proposed amendments also include extending the geographical reach of the Act to include voyages to and from other defined places in Australian waters, such as offshore installations. This will potentially increase the use of Australian refineries, and open this shipping market to general licence vessels.

There is a proposal for dry-docking, and importantly for this industry, we have identified training initiatives to develop and retain critical maritime skills.

I think you will agree these amendments are designed to see Australian businesses have access to efficient, flexible and cost-effective shipping services. This will meet business needs, and further supporting the workers.

One final and important point—I want to see change as much as you do, and I am acutely aware of the need to work towards a reform agenda in a bipartisan way that can be agreed upon.

The Turnbull-Joyce Government is committed to coastal shipping reform and it is a priority to bring legislation back into Parliament this year.

So, I call on industry to support our pragmatic approach to coastal shipping reform set out in the discussion paper.

As I said, these aren't wholesale changes, this is a sensible and sustainable approach to coastal shipping regulation.

The federal Government's vision is for a simpler and more flexible coastal shipping industry that carries an increased share of Australia's freight.

We want to work with you to achieve that. To do so, we need to hear from you.

In life these opportunities to contribute don't come along often, and when they do, they should be grabbed with both hands.

The date for submissions has been extended to 12 May, and I encourage you to take the time to put in a submission.

Thank you.