‘Unilateral economic disarmament’: Australian cabotage changes attacked

Plans by the ruling Liberal Party to change cabotage laws have sparked another angry protest, this time in the House of Representatives.

Australia’s shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese blasted the planned Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 yesterday as “unilateral economic disarmament”.

Albanese said the bill will allow overseas flagged and crewed ships, paying workers Third World wages, to undercut Australian operators on domestic trade routes.

“It will destroy Australian jobs, damaging the economy. It will increase the likelihood of maritime accidents in our coastal waters, threatening the environment. And it will replace Australian mariners, who are subject to stringent background checks, with foreign workers whose backgrounds are not subject to the same scrutiny when it comes to security. Jobs, the environment, national securityall basic requirements of good government, all thrown overboard by a government blinded to the national interest by its hatred of the Maritime Union of Australia,” Albanese said, describing the legislation as “obscene”.

The law changes have been attacked by Australia’s various maritime-related unions in recent months.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This matter needs very careful consideration.In case any of us have forgotten Australia is still very much an Island continent.To give up our sole rights to carry our own cargoes in our own registered & owned merchant fleet can be nothing but an unmitigated disaster. In times of any hostilities towards this country,we would be totally dependant on foreign flagged & crewed vessels & subject to the whims of foreign nationals & possible blackmail.Would the Chinese do this or the Americans,Japanese,Britian.? It’s unbelievable that as a nation we would even contemplate such a thing.

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