Aug 15, 2018

Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail – Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (17:26): I move opposition amendment (3):

(3) Schedule 1, item 15, page 5 (lines 20 to 23), omit the item.

Amendment (3) is to omit schedule 1, item 15, page 5, lines 20 to 23. Section 6(1) of the Coastal Trading Act currently defines ‘voyage’ as the ‘movement of a vessel from one port to another port’. That definition shouldn’t be all that surprising. The bill proposes to amend this definition to remove the reference to movement from one port to another port, effectively extending the definition of a voyage to include voyages that don’t really go anywhere, that start and finish at the same port. The explanatory memorandum says that the purpose of this amendment is to:

… open the coastal trading regime to chartered recreational vessels that typically embark and disembark at the same port …

In practice, this definitional change is likely to harm existing, more traditional sections of the domestic maritime industry. It would open the way for foreign transhipment and bunker barge operators to apply for temporary licences to work around the Australian coast. Currently, the companies performing these activities, which usually begin and end in the same port, are Australian based and employ Australian seafarers. But once again we see a government that doesn’t seem to worry about whether there are Australian jobs and Australians being employed or whether, effectively, we’re offshoring those jobs and thereby contracting the Australian industry.

I’m sure the government will say that this is about superyachts, given that it seemed to just talk and talk and talk about superyachts during the debate on this legislation. But the fact is that the damage that would be done to Australian based tourism operators, as well as Australian based bunker barge operators, for example, could be substantial. I have said, and I reiterate to the minister, that Labor is open to reforms that will promote the growth of the superyacht industry, to the benefit of communities up and down the Australian coastline. But we need to do it in a way that doesn’t have unintended consequences, that doesn’t basically knock over those Australian industries that are currently operating.

One of those, which I’ve mentioned before, is Coral Expeditions. On their letterhead, they define themselves as ‘Australia’s pioneering cruise line’. Indeed, they are a great Australian success story, employing people in Queensland in particular. This is what they said in their submission of 13 August, a few days ago, to the Senate committee on this legislation: ‘The changes will have the unintended consequence of killing off the growing and globally respected Australian flagged expedition cruise ship industry. This will have a significant negative impact on sustainable tourism and the environment in remote and sensitive coastal areas in Australia and on the revival of Australian seafaring.’ They say: ‘We urge the current restrictions on coastal trading for foreign flagged passenger ships be maintained in order to facilitate the steady and sustainable development of coastal tourism and the Australian seafaring industry.’

I’ve met with the superyacht industry. I’ve spoken with them about the changes that could be made, looking at the Customs Act provisions, for example—

Mr Craig Kelly: Doesn’t Albo have a superyacht?

Mr ALBANESE: That’s the sort of idiocy that has given you such preselection problems.

Mr Craig Kelly: Won’t you invite me out on it?

Mr ALBANESE: That’s the sort of brilliant interjection which has made you the part of the rump of the Liberal Party that you are. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): The question is that the amendment be agreed to. I call the member for Grayndler.

Mr ALBANESE: I won’t respond any further to the member for Hughes. I say to the member for Hughes that there has to be a reason why Sky News exists, and it is for the member for Hughes to get a run somewhere, which he does regularly. He of course gets runs on other occasions as well—when he makes regrettable and offensive statements that he then has to withdraw. I say to the member for Hughes: sometimes it’s really smart to shut up, and then people won’t know what is inside. I say that constructively.

But the fact is I have been prepared to sit down with industry. I regard the minister as a serious person and I put forward suggestions in a constructive way—and I’ve made a couple; one is about customs. There are other ways as well that you could resolve the sorts of issues that have been raised by the industry with me, and they are open to that. But what you shouldn’t do is make changes that undermine the entire Australian coastal fleet, undermine Australian jobs and undermine existing Australian operators like True North and Coral Expeditions, because it is simply not in anyone’s interests for that to occur. I assume that resolving these issues is the objective of the amendment in the bill to change the definition of ‘voyage’, and I’ll listen to the minister’s response, but I say to the minister that Australian based industry are saying that that is not in their interests, and the people whom this particular clause is aimed at are also saying they’re not wedded to it. They’re after an outcome rather than any particular process. I commend opposition amendment (3) to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): I put the question—

Mr Conroy interjecting

Mr McCormack: No, no.


Mr McCormack: Let’s hear from the member for Shortland!

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes. I call the member for Shortland.

Mr McCormack: Please, let’s hear from the member for Shortland!