The Australian Labor Party (ALP) flagged changes it would make to the Australian shipping industry at its ALP Special Platform Conference last Wednesday 31 March.
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Official Mich-Elle Myers presided over the conference in her capacity as federal Vice President of the ALP.
The conference endorsed a statement summarising the ALP’s policy platform on shipping. The policy platform signifies the policies the ALP would seek to implement if it takes power after the next federal election.
“The nation needs a strong Australian flagged fleet to ensure secure supply of goods essential to our economy, such as fuel, as well as to ensure the safety of our community in times of crisis,” the statement says. “Labor acknowledges that shipping is an important national strategic industry supporting many other industries such as manufacturing, energy production, agriculture and tourism and that ships are efficient, require no built infrastructure for navigation and are the least energy intensive of all freight transport modes.”
The statement says it will amend maritime laws and regulations, including those relating to ship licencing and maritime safety, as well as to foreign seafarer visa requirements.
The statement also highlights potential changes to the taxation and industrial relations regime, as well the process of developing port infrastructure. “Improved corporate and seafarer tax incentives and workforce development measures [will mean] Australian shipowners can compete fairly and employ more Australian seafarers,” it says. “We will ensure Australian shipping and port infrastructure is appropriately funded and will establish industry stakeholder engagement arrangements to help coordinate our commitment to revitalise Australian shipping.”
The ALP statement also signals its intention to shift those industries which use shipping away from fossil fuels and towards new technologies.
“Labor acknowledges that new opportunities for Australian ships will emerge as industries transform in response to utilisation of new technologies and as Australia rebuilds its manufacturing industry,” it says. “As energy transitions away from fossil fuel usage adopting new energy sources such as hydrogen, ammonia, and biofuels and as more value adding occurs in agriculture, demand for ships in domestic and international sea transportation will increase. Labor will incentivise these new opportunities for Australian ships.”