If re-elected, a coalition government will, within six months, introduce measures to increase Australia’s sovereign maritime capability that can be called upon in the event of a national crisis or natural disaster.
90% of world trade is carried by ship and Australia’s commercial fleet currently consists of 13 large vessels.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said expanding our commercial fleet will bolster the country’s sovereign shipping capability to ensure we can always access supply links and vital cargo.
“Australia has a maritime vulnerability. We are a nation surrounded by the sea. If you can stop imports and exports to Australia, you can stop Australia. We have to regain our sovereignty in this space and give the priority to Australian seafarers,” Mr Joyce said.
“Over the past few years of battling the COVID-19 pandemic and damage to vital supply chains from rare weather events, we have seen the importance for Australia of maintaining strong sovereign capacity in the merchant navy.
“The Coalition will make it less burdensome and more commercially viable for shipowners to choose Australia and we will take action quickly, unlike the Labor Party’s plan to set up another task force and look into the situation, with no plan clear in place and without delay in view.
“The Coalition Government will create the right environment for the expansion of our sovereign maritime capability, including tackling uncompetitive fiscal settings that make it uncommercial and too expensive for shipowners to own Australian ships and employ Australian sailors.
“The Coalition is the only choice when it comes to sound economic management and ensuring our sovereignty and security.”
The coalition government:
- Review Australia’s tax provisions for Australian shipowners to ensure they can compete on a level playing field with overseas shipowners. This will include assessing current tax exemptions for businesses and seafarers and exploring changes that will promote Australia’s sovereign trading capacity.
- Put in place provisions to encourage Australian shipowners to look to our regional neighbors for workers to complement the Australian workforce.
- Implement changes to the Coastal Trade Act to remove red tape and increase the speed at which shipowners can service Australia.
Mr Joyce said he had consulted with the shipping industry, which he said overwhelmingly supported the proposed measures, which were a win-win for Australians and the industry.
“This plan will not only provide supply chain security, but also a significant economic benefit to Australia with more maritime employment and training opportunities to build the capacity of Australians within the workforce. work of the maritime industry,” Mr. Joyce said.
“These measures will help fill a significant gap in work opportunities currently available on Australian vessels for Australian seafarers to fulfill their time-at-sea requirements for initial training, ongoing experience and career progression.
“Australia cannot smash its way in securing shipping capability – only our own sovereign shipping can achieve this with the support of our shipping industry and a coalition government.
“Contrary to Labour’s vague plan based on setting up a task force without delay, the Coalition Government will take steps to implement measures within six months of re-election.
“All Labor has committed to is a working group, with no policy or plan to consider at the moment – in contrast, the Coalition has a clear plan and will act quickly.
“This policy will have significant benefits for the industry and for the sovereignty and security of our nation.”