Michael Danby MHR

Tel: (03) 9534 8126
Fax: (03) 9534 1575

117 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda VIC 3182


PO Box 2086
St Kilda West 3182
 

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS: Australian Shipping Industry
Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (9.46 a.m.) —
I rise today to express my concern about what seems to be the covert policy of the Australian government to allow the Australian shipping industry to wither and die. Previously the Australian government had a policy of supporting the Australian shipping industry. In a recent publication on the Australian shipping industry, the managing director of ASP Ship Management Pty Ltd made a comment which I think is very interesting—that the current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services said that Australia is a `nation of shippers'. He is correct. The shipping industry is a source of a great deal of our nation's wealth. But the managing director of this major Australian shipping company went on:

What is missing however, is any interest from our Commonwealth government in allowing fellow-Australians to provide shipping solutions to the shippers.

He said that, seemingly, the sole focus of attention in this current government has been on `the maritime unions and an accompanying hell-bent objective of doing nothing to support the local shipping industry'.

Single-voyage permits used to be issued by the Department of Transport to foreign ships to carry coastal cargo if a suitable Australian ship was not available. Now it seems that the Australian government is handing these permits out to foreign ships holus-bolus if an Australian ship cannot match the foreign ship's freight rates. The Australian ships cannot possibly meet the freight rates of these flag of convenience foreign ships, using Third World crews on Third World wages, whose owners do not pay tax in Australia. In contrast, Australian ships have to meet a number of requirements. They have to comply with 35 pieces of legislation, including the Workplace Relations Act, occupational health and safety legislation, the Navigation Act and, above all, the Income Tax Assessment Act.

It is very interesting that the Deputy Prime Minister, in an interview with Lloyd's List following a recent international shipping symposium on safe shipping, said that the government does not want to see Australian shipping die but it has determined that it is in the national interest for the Australian community to have the lowest shipping that could operate in a safe and reliable manner. This is what underlies the current government's attitude to Australian shipping and to the abandonment of the national interest: considering only the lowest price of what shipping might be provided on the Australian coast. This is not, I believe, in the long-term interests of Australia. It brings to mind something that I said in my first speech to the Australian parliament, that we live in a society, not just a market. Not everything should be determined by price. I believe the Australian people will rue the day that this Australian government has allowed the Australian shipping industry to be destroyed by Third World ships, at Third World rates, which do not pay Australian income tax.

 
     
 

Authorised by Michael Danby 117 Fitzroy Street St Kilda VIC 3182