A Liberal Party member of nearly 50 years’ standing has warned that shipping law reforms proposed by Tony Abbott breach Coalition policy and will render his business “completely uncompetitive’’.
Peter Cadwallader, the Chairman of the Intercontinental Shipping Group, says the proposed Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill will destroy jobs and economic growth by giving foreign-flagged vessels an unfair advantage over Australian vessels.
“As a long-time member of the Liberal Party (nearly 50 years) I am aware that the focus of Coalition policy is jobs and growth,’’ Mr Cadwallader wrote in a submission to the Senate’s Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport Committee.
“Both of these objectives will be sacrificed by the Bill in direct contradiction of Coalition policy.’’
The Senate committee is examining the legislation, which would allow foreign-flagged ships paying third world wages to operate between Australian domestic ports.
Current arrangements, put in place by the former Labor Government, allow foreign vessels to operate on Australia’s coastal waters, but require them to pay Australian level wages to maintain a level playing field for Australian shipping companies.
The Abbott legislation would abolish these provisions, destroy Australian jobs and literally crush the Australian maritime sector.
It is in Australia’s economic, environmental and security interests to retain a strong Australian shipping industry.
But Mr Abbott, under pressure from his political donors to reduce freight rates at any cost, seems content to throw the Australian industry overboard with legislation best described as Work Choices on Water.
This is unilateral economic disarmament that no industrialised country in the world would contemplate.
Labor wants to see the Australian flag flying proudly off the back of the ships moving freight around our coast and around the world.
But Tony Abbott is happy to raise the white flag on the future of shipping in this country.