Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail – Wednesday, 15 August 2018
(1) Schedule 1, items 5 and 6, page 4 (lines 8 to 21), omit the items.
Amendment (1) relates to the issue of acceptable tolerance limits. The current act establishes acceptable tolerance limits for temporary licence voyages being plus or minus 20 per cent for the nominated cargo passenger volumes and plus or minus five days for the authorised loading date, without the shipper needing to seek a variation to their temporary licence. If required, a variation must be approved by the minister within two business days. What the bill proposes is to increase the volume tolerance limits to 200 per cent more or 100 per cent less. It also proposes a loading window tolerance of 30 days either side of the authorised dates. This has very serious implications for whether the Australian industry around our coast can literally survive. If you had listened to the speeches of those opposite, you would have thought that the only issue to do with shipping around our coast was about superyachts; it’s actually about the capacity of Australian flagged vessels to exist, taking resources and goods around our coastline.
These changes would further deregulate what is already one of the world’s most liberal coastal trading regimes. To put that in some context, in the United States, under the Jones Act, if you want coastal trading to exist around the coast of the US—if you have goods in San Francisco you want to take to Los Angeles or goods in Miami that you want to take to New York—then you have to use an American flagged vessel with an American crew, 100 per cent. They have a completely protectionist regime. Australia doesn’t have that, and Labor certainly isn’t proposing that that would be appropriate. But it is appropriate that we have a regime that allows Australian flagged vessels to have an opportunity to continue to exist.
The proposed amendments in this legislation, which the amendment I’ve moved this afternoon would remove, would make it almost impossible for a general licensed vessel to contest work, because their owner-operator would never know the actual volume or the precise loading date. To be clear, I say to the minister that they wouldn’t know what the loading date was, so how can you bid for work as an Australian contractor if you don’t know, within 30 days, what the date of that voyage would be and you also don’t know what the actual volume of goods for that task that you are seeking would be?
Let us look at what the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers said in a submission to the discussion paper not of this minister and not of his predecessor as minister but of the minister before that—Minister Chester. That’s how long this legislation has been around, in limbo, because it is orphaned legislation, to be frank. No-one wants to be associated with it. I’m not surprised that the current minister’s been put in an unfortunate position, but he has an opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I’m better than my predecessor.’ That’s not a big call, I say to the minister. ‘And I’m even better than the minister before that, because, as a member of the National Party, I’m going to stand up for Australian businesses.’ AIMPE said:
The ultimate voyage carried out may bear no resemblance to the original voyage for which the Temporary Licence was granted.
AIMPE are right in their submission, and that is why this amendment should be carried. (Time expired)
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.