The Australian Governments has decided to support the recommendation of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee to pass the Coastal Trading amendment bill before the parliament.
The bill would remove the five-voyage minimum requirement to apply for a temporary licence, streamline the processes for making changes to temporary licences by creating a single variation process, amend voyage notification requirements so notifications are only required when voyage details have changed from those approved on the licence, amend the tolerance provisions for temporary licence voyages to better reflect industry practice, and allow for temporary licences to be issued in emergency situations.
It would further amend the definition of coastal trading to include voyages commencing and concluding at the same port, allow the coastal trading regime to include ships engaged in dry-docking, and amend the definition of coastal trading to include voyages between ports and other defined places in Australian waters such as offshore facilities.
Finally, it would require temporary licence holders to provide a vessel’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number to assist with easy identification of vessels, and make minor technical amendments to several definitions in the Coastal Trading Act that require clarification to assist with administration.
“This decision by the government is a clear indication that the issue of coastal shipping is one with momentum and a reform that the country needs,” commented Ports Australia’s Chief Executive Mike Gallacher.
“Coastal Shipping will benefit Australians both regionally and in the city, the reform has the support of both business and now also government.
“It will open up our blue highway which costs nothing to build, run or maintain allowing Australia’ supply chain to be more flexible and carry more capacity for less.”
The Labor Party recommended the bill be opposed in its entirety.
“The bill currently before the Parliament will only accelerate the industry’s decline, eventually consigning Australia’s status as a proud maritime nation to the history pages,” said the opposition response. “That would be an unbelievable development given we are an island continent, almost all of our imports and exports are transported in the hull of ships, and even more significantly, a tenth of global sea trade flows through our ports.”
Published since 1978, Ausmarine is the foremost magazine servicing the Australian and New Zealand commercial, military and government marine sectors.