Today I will introduce legislation to Parliament which will see the most significant overhaul of the Australian shipping industry in 100 years.
In the past decade the Australian fleet has gone from 55 ships to 21, with only four operating on international routes.
In a country where 99.9% of our trade is moved by ships, there will soon be no fleet left.
We need to act now or we won’t have an industry left at all.
The package of five Bills comprises the Government’s Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy that will revitalise our shipping industry.
- Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Bill
- Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill
- Shipping Registration Amendment (Australian International Shipping Register) Bill
- Shipping Reform (Tax Incentives) Bill; and
- Tax Laws Amendment (Shipping Reforms) Bill.
A zero tax rate for Australian shipping companies, along with a suite of other fiscal measures, means that Australian ships will be able to compete against their international competitors on a level playing field.
This package will address the 40 percent decline in our fleet over the last decade and the fact that Australia’s fleet is ageing. The average age of the Australian fleet now sits at almost 20 years compared to a global average of 12 years.
We have one of the most liberal coastal trading regimes in the world and this will not be changing. The Government’s reforms recognise there is a legitimate role for foreign flagged vessels in our domestic shipping industry.
But we don’t want to lose our chance to become an active player in the international industry and we don’t want to miss out on opportunities when other countries recognise the importance of having a vibrant shipping sector.
Investment in shipping is as important as our investment in road and rail and the benefits are good for the economy, the environment and our national security.