Athens: The Australian government has proposed coastal shipping reforms in its new Budget that it is hoped will simplify cabotage regulations in the country.
One of the proposed reforms is to replace the “five-licence” requirement with a simple coastal permit.
Vessels engaged in Australian coastal trades, whether foreign or domestically flagged, must nominate five future voyages they will undertake within the next 12 months when they apply for a temporary licence from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. This is straightforward for liner operators but difficult for vessels on an irregular ‘tramp’ schedule.
The licencing scheme was instated as part of the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.
The government has also proposed that the amount of required compliance reporting is reduced, and that the carriage of petroleum products be permitted in coastal trades.
Current exemptions for large passenger vessels will also be removed under the proposed reforms, and minimum Australian crew requirements introduced for all vessels operating on the coast for more than 183 days in a year.
The proposals have been welcomed by industry body Shipping Australia, which campaigns on behalf of the country’s shipping industry.
“The proposed changes will breathe new life into coastal shipping,” Rod Nairn, CEO of Shipping Australia, said in a statement today.
“This sector has languished since the 2012 Coastal Trading Act was introduced. These reforms are absolutely necessary to allow domestic goods to be efficiently carried by sea.”
“All our major ports currently have excess capacity. Removing the strangling legislation from coastal shipping is a way of improving the efficiency of moving domestic freight without spending one cent on additional infrastructure,” Nairn continued. “This has to be good for Australia’s economy and good for all Australians.”