Senate Committee backs coastal shipping reform

Media Release

WT328/2015

14 October 2015

The Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport Senate Committee has backed the Government's Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 in its report tabled in the Senate.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss thanked Committee members for their consideration and said the Government had to act now to ensure coastal shipping is a viable and longterm part of Australia's freight transport network.

“The Australian Government plans to help deliver more affordable freight costs for businesses and greater choice between shipping companies, which will lead to better services being provided to Australian industries,” Mr Truss said.

“Evidence, supplied by shippers, shows that Labor's Act has increased the price of coastal shipping services and reduced competition, hitting Australian businesses hard and adding uncertainty and red tape without improving the viability of Australia's shipping sector or the quality of shipping services.

“Without changes to our regulatory settings, shipping will not be able to deliver the competitive, efficient services that Australian businesses need.

“Industries like aluminium, gypsum, cement, sugar, resources, fertiliser, petroleum, grain, manufacturing, and a plethora of other producers that can or could use coastal shipping services if it was more competitive, will benefit from the Government's proposed reform.”

The Senate Committee in its report acknowledges that Labor's current coastal shipping legislation is “clearly inadequate” and “intent on making things as difficult as possible for those seeking to use its services.”

The Senate Committee notes that Labor's Act has “failed to revitalise coastal shipping—indeed it seems, perversely, to have facilitated its continuing decline, making it often more economic to import goods than to ship them locally.”

The Senate Committee has acknowledged the Government's Bill will allow shipping users access to more competitive coastal shipping services; “It removes impediments, leverages strengths and reduces costs, and its passage will benefit the economy greatly.”