Media Release

Ports Australia Welcomes Action On Australian Shipping And Maritime Skills

Posted on
May 7, 2019

Key Points:

  • Australia relies on maritime skills for a healthy economy, way of life and national security
  • Australian shipping is almost extinct, and without intervention, Ports will lose a vital training ground for people who go on to operate Ports
  • Ports are experiencing a national shortage of skilled personnel relying on 457 visas to fill positions
  • A global skills shortage will apply even more pressure
  • For more information head to our information page on the issue

Ports Australia welcomed today's announcement of Labor's Australian Shipping policy. Urgent action is needed to ensure long-term viability of Australian’s maritime sector.  

Ports Australia released its policy platform this week highlighting three policies that would improve Australia's future through Ports. Increasing maritime skills is one-third of the platform.

Ports Australia's chief executive Mike Gallacher said that without Australians with maritime skills this nation is vulnerable.

"Australia is an island nation, and we rely on our Ports to connect our businesses to the world and bring goods to Australian households."

"Without the people with the technical understanding to operate these Ports 98 per cent of our physical trade is in danger. This represents our economy, our way of life and our national security."

"Without intervention, Australian shipping will disappear and gone with that industry will be our ability to train Australians will the skills to run some of our most nationally significant infrastructure, our Ports."

"Ports are major employers of Australians with maritime skills filling roles such as harbour masters, pilots, tug masters and hydrographers. There is a national and global shortage of specialised mariners.

"Over 60% of skilled people in the sector are over 45 while the number aged under 30 is reducing. Ports around the country, particularly regional Ports, are struggling to recruit adequately skilled people for specific roles."

"Unfortunately, only 15 per cent of our domestic freight task is moved by ship. We believe more non-time specific freight such as construction materials and fuel can be moved along our blue highway.  This frees up space on our roads and rail while providing training opportunities for Australian mariners."

"We welcome Labor’s plan to revitalise Australian shipping, Ports Australia have done extensive work on the issue and look forward to helping the next government find a solution to what is fast becoming a national crisis," Mike Gallacher concluded.

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