Release Date:
Release ID: 5893

Coastal Shipping Rules Not to blame for Farmers’ woes

It is unfortunate that recent comments by the National Farmers Federation seek to lay the blame for Aussie farmers woes on the coastal shipping laws brought in by Anthony Albanese in 2012. Mr Albanese took the time to understand the industry and consulted widely to try to arrive at a solution that would work for all parties. What is needed is a bipartisan approach to tackle the issues facing Australian shipping. It’s an industry that has been in decline for many decades but should be recognised as important to Australia as a large island nation

In the debate about coastal shipping laws it is important to deal with the facts not the rhetoric. ANL is a major carrier of coastal cargo in containers and does hundreds of voyages per year under a Temporary Licence (TL). We see the current system of TL’s working well. The Government department administers the system efficiently and I’m sure the statistics would show the volume is growing. Also ANL’s experience is that coastal rates have fallen in recent years. So where is the problem?” said Mr Lines.
Tasmania and Bass Strait shipping always feature in the discussion on coastal shipping reform. Tasmania has three daily sailings connecting to Melbourne. These vessels are crewed and managed by Australians; they are there day in day out on one of the roughest stretches of water in the world. Why put these companies and the long term interests of Tasmania at risk so that foreign flagged vessels can just come in and out at will and cherry pick the business. But what about the cost? There is no denying an Australian-manned vessel costs more, same as an Australian manned truck. The freight disadvantage faced by Tasmanian producers was recognized in 1976 with the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) which was extended to cover export cargo in 2016. “Effectively the Government covers the cost of the leg to Melbourne and then exporters have many choices of carrier to any part of the world,” said Mr Lines.
There are no doubt many Aussie farmers looking for a better way to get their goods to market but we don’t see the problem being the coastal shipping rules. In our studies it is often the handling cost from the farm gate to the port and the port to final destination that makes the sea movement uncompetitive compared to road and rail. “ANL carries lots of freight around Australia; we have people right across Australia plus a local logistics business. Our international container services go to over 400 ports worldwide. If producers have a transport problem they should give us a call and we will do our best to come up with a workable solution,” Mr Lines went on to say.
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