FEDERAL ELECTION: Three ways Ports can help Australians

Posted on
May 1, 2019

Australian Ports are in a unique position to help improve the future of Australia. In lead up to the 2019 Federal Election Ports Australia has combined three policies that respond to the pressures of a growing population and freight task.

You can find outlines of the policies as well as the full policy papers on our Federal Election page.

These three policies work together to increase our international competitiveness, reduce the cost of living, help bust congestion, protect our independence and create quality jobs for future Australians:

Using Australia’s Blue Highway

Building Maritime Skills

Improving Lives through Connected Ports

Trucks moving freight to and from the Port of Melbourne.

As Australia’s population grows the quality and connectivity of our freight and supply chain will grow ever more vital. Our transport systems are already struggling to cope with our population’ increased freight task and we are losing the skills to facilitate our gateways to the world.

We are an island nation with over 98 per cent of our trade moving through Australia’s sea Ports along the Blue Highway, fully utilising and connecting Ports will help all Australians.

Ports can do this by:

Building Maritime Skills is essential to ensuring we have a fully functioning economy. Being an island nation with 98% of our trade moving through Ports, maritime skilled people are completely vital to our functioning economy. Our position on skills seeks to address a sleeping issue that is threatening Australia’s economy. There is a skills shortage in the maritime sector coming our way, a global shortfall of around 80,000 seafarers is projected by 2020. Future Port operation vacancies such as Harbour Masters, Marine Pilots, Tug Masters and Hydrographers that are essential for the safe and efficient passage of ships through our ports, are projected to not be filled.

A lack of action to resolve this issue will result in decreased fuel and national security and increased delays, safety incidents, and costs. To increase our maritime skills workforce we need to develop a sensible shipping policy that facilitates the training and employment of Australian seafarers. Additionally, we can undertake changes to the Temporary Skills Visa System that will facilitate the hiring of a limited number of foreign maritime specialist to ensure the ongoing operations of our local maritime industry and train future Australians to succeed them.

Using Australia’s Blue Highway focuses on our vision for coastal shipping, and how increasing this will benefit our cities and economy while aiding our skills shortage. Australia’s domestic freight task between 1990-2000 and 2015-2016 grew by around 50% (NTC, 2016).  In that time coastal shipping’s contribution grew by 1%; rail’s by 210%; and road’s by 61%. With freight expected to continue growing, and roads and railways becoming congested and delayed, we need to optimise our available freight networks. We address the advantage of coastal shipping for bulk products, such as raw sugar from North Queensland to Victoria. Additionally, the economic benefits are significant for heavy commodities such as steel from Port Kembla to Hastings.

The key to revitalising coastal shipping is to ensure that Australia’s future transport mix is balanced across the four modes.  This includes reducing government expenditure on road and rail projects which would be better served through investment in shipping. A development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy will optimise available freight networks and lower costs, as well as the improvement of current regulations which have a cumulative effect in burdening the maritime industry from fairly competing in the transport mix.

Improving Lives through Connected Ports is all about how Ports can improve the quality of life for Australians. The better we connect Ports to the rest of the country along rail, road and sea the less we pay for goods and the more competitive business are overseas. It also helps reduce congestion in cities and emissions through less freight movements. We are seeking mode neutrality in planning to ensure the flexibility of trucking, connectivity of rail and capacity of shipping is utilised without bias for the best national outcomes.

The development of a bipartisan National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is a key step in the right direction to improve transport connectivity.

You can find outlines of the policies as well as the full policy papers on our Federal Election page.

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