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Ports Australia’s chief executive Mike Gallacher has welcomed the Australian Government's support for reforms under the Coastal Trading Amendment Bill.

Mr Gallacher said the decision by the government was a clear indication that the issue of coastal shipping was one with momentum and a reform that the country needs.

“Coastal shipping is a smart reform, it will open up our blue highway which costs nothing to build, run or maintain allowing Australia’ supply chain to be more flexible and carry more capacity for less," he said.

“The reforms are a step in the right direction but there is more work to be done before the full benefits of coastal shipping and Australia’s blue highway can be realised for Australians.

“It is our hope that now with the governments support the Senate can look at the merits of this reform for the supply chain and the benefits it will bring for Australians and pass these amendments without delay.” 

The government was spurrred to work with users and stakeholders on the issue after seeing shipping's share of Australian freight fall from about 25 per cent to about 17 per cent between 2004-05 and 2014-15.

At the same time the overall volume of freight across Australia grew by about 55 per cent.

In its response to a Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee report on the issue, the Federal Government noted feedback indicating that the current regulation of coastal shipping creates a range of administrative issues for shipping companies and Australian businesses that use coastal shipping, resulting in a substantial regulatory burden.

The Amendment Bill will:
- remove the five-voyage minimum requirement to apply for a ternporary licence;
- streamline the processes for making changes to temporary licences by creating a single
variation process;
- amend voyage notification requirernents so notifications are only required when voyage details
have changed from those approved on the licence;
- amend the tolerance provisions for temporary licence voyages to better reflect industry
- allow for temporary licences to be issued in emergency situations;
- amend the definition of coastal trading to include voyages commencing and concluding at the
same port;
- allow the coastal trading regime to include ships engaged in dry-docking;
- amend the definition of coastal trading to include voyages between ports and other defined
places in Australian waters such as offshore facilities;
- require temporary licence holders to provide a vessel's Intemational Maritime Organization
(IMO) number to assist with easy identification of vessels; and
- make minor technical amendments to several definitions in the Coastal Trading Act that
require clarification to assist with administration.

Ports Australia welcomes move towards reform