(updated 07 07 21)
Deputy PM wants Australian flag coastal fleet
(uploaded 07 07 21)
The new Deputy Prime Minister Mr Barnaby Joyce has announced his support for an Australian flag coastal shipping fleet.
On the occasion of the swearing in of his new National Party Ministers, Mr Joyce made the clearest statement since his election on 21st June that he is in favour of the AIMPE/AMOU Coastal Tanker proposal. Mr Joyce said "I think you need Australian flagged ships to have full sovereignty". The context of his comments was a broad view that Australia needs to be more self-reliant in an uncertain world.
The Weekend Australian on 3rd/4th July carried the story of the comments made by Mr Joyce on 2nd July in Canberra. Mr Joyce has taken on the portfolio of Infrastructure and Transport and so it will be his responsibility to take a formal decision on the issue.
AIMPE will be urging that Mr Joyce takes the formal decision as soon as possible.
Minister rejects Coastal Tanker proposal
The Minister responsible for transport, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has rejected the joint AIMPE/AMOU proposal for a coastal tanker fleet.
Mr McCormack has stuck to the same position that he has had since becoming the Minister responsible for transport saying that he will not support a strategic fleet.
His letter shows that he has disregarded all the arguments presented in our proposal including fuel security and workforce training.
Unlike most Ministers, Mr McCormack does not acknowledge the need to change his position in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has demonstrated some of the vulnerabilities of national economies.
Nor does Mr McCormack seem to be thinking about the changing strategic environment that Australia faces which may require a great deal more self-sufficiency to keep our economy ticking over.
This is deeply disappointing.
The Minister needs to change his mind or we need a new Minister.
The letter can be read in full here:
Members campaign for coastal tanker fleet
The campaign to gain Federal Government support for an Australian flag coastal tanker fleet has reached the stage where we need to ask for members assistance.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Hon Michael McCormack has not replied to AIMPE’s letter in March requesting his support for the AIMPE/AMOU proposal for the May Federal Budget. We want an answer to the question – will he support the proposal for an Australian tanker fleet in the budget?
Write a letter to Deputy PM Mr McCormack
AIMPE members all around Australia can help by writing to the Deputy PM directly. A draft letter together with contact details is below. The draft is just a guide. Please feel free to write your own letter or email. Put it in your own words. Tell Mr McCormack about your concerns. But make sure you ask for an answer. Don't forget to send a copy to AIMPE - email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the draft letter to the Deputy PM:
Write a letter to your Nationals Senators – Queensland, NSW, Victoria and NT
AIMPE members can also help by writing to National Party Senators and National Party MPs. The Nationals Senators are listed on the last page of this letter. If you live in Queensland, NSW, Victoria or NT can you please write to the Senator in your State. A draft letter is attached but again this is just a guide. Do write your own letter or email if you prefer. Using your own words is great. Make sure to ask for a reply. Send a copy to AIMPE - email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Write a letter to your Nationals MPs
There are 15 Nationals MPs in the House of Representatives in Federal Parliament apart from Mr McCormack. They are in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. AIMPE members in these States can help by writing a letter to their own local member asking for their support for the coastal tanker proposal and for them to press Mr McCormack to support the proposal.
AIMPE farewells Searoad Tamar and welcomes Liekut
The AIMPE has farewelled the Bass Strait ro-ro Searoad Tamar and welcomed the new replacement ro-ro Liekut.
Nathan Niven, Mick Lawler, Ralph Nicholson, Steve McLaren, Brad Jacobs and Michael Farrugia on the back deck of the Searoad Tamar enjoying its farewell BBQ on Saturday 20 March.
AIMPE welcomes the latest Searoad vessel, the MV Liekut, joining the Searoad Bass Strait fleet. The MV Liekut arrived in Melbourne on 25 March. The vessel is a temporary 3-year replacement for the Searoad Tamar while a new vessel is commissioned. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions the vessel had to be delivered by an international delivery crew. A Covid transition plan was implemented as 5 Foreign Officers are remaining on-board for a 2-4-week handover and familiarisation. The Covid plan also ensured that all foreign crew members needed a negative Covid test being recorded before any Australian crew were allowed on-board plus a thorough deep clean of the vessel took place. The MV Liekut is a significantly larger vessel than the Searoad Mersey II. The MV Liekut was built in the same Flensburg shipyard by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft. Its length is 209.79 meters compared to the Mersey II at 181.5 meters. Her draught is 6.4 meters compared to the Mersey II’s 6.1 meters and the gross tonnage is 32,887 tonnes which is far greater than the Mersey II’s 25,409 tonnes. The MV Liekut, unlike the Mersey II is not powered by gas. She will run on low sulphur diesel via 2 x 9,600 kw MAN engines accompanied by 2 x 1,500 kw bow thrusters, and can reportedly travel at 21.3 knots. To accommodate the larger vessel Searoad invested $15million in Devonport developing its East Devonport terminal. This included works on fendering, berth strengthening and mooring bollards plus $600,000 of fendering relocation, pile restoration and mooring bollards works in Melbourne.
AIMPE calls for Federal Budget support
The AIMPE has written to the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Michael McCormack seeking his support for the establishment of an Australian coastal tanker fleet in this year's Federal Budget. As the Minister responsible for Transport among other things, Mr McCormack's support is vital if the proposal is to be included in the May 2021 Budget.
The proposal is one which AIMPE and AMOU have raised on a number of occasions over the last year or more. It is a proposal which we believe is practical and capable of implementation over a relatively short span of time. This proposal is also one which has attracted favourable comment from Industry participants and Departmental officials.
Our proposal is a tight, focussed proposal with the specific purpose of improving Australia’s fuel security as well as providing a platform for the training of the young maritime professionals of the future - which Australia so desperately needs.
The Federal Government has assisted the improvement of Australia’s energy security by implementing a new fuel storage policy for key strategic locations around Australia – but Australia currently lacks a home-grown capability to distribute petroleum fuel products from those key strategic locations to the many other smaller ports around the country.
Specifically we are seeking urgent support for this proposal and the inclusion of funding in the 2021-22 Budget to be handed down in May to implement the plan in three stages over the next three financial years.
The full text of the letter can be found here:
Senate Committee Report on Shipping Policy
(posted 03 02 21)
The Senate Committee Report into Shipping Policy released just before Christmas includes a long list of recommendations for the Government.
A copy of the Report can be found here:
However, there is a dissenting report towards the back of the report which is written by the Government members of the Committee. It does not provide a great deal of hope that the recommendations will be adopted and implemented.
SeaRoad Tamar interim replacement
(posted 04 12 20)
SeaRoad Shipping will introduce a new charter vessel in March 2021 to provide increased capacity for freight across Bass Strait.
The $80 million investment over three years will see MV SEAROAD TAMAR replaced with the MV LIEKUT until SeaRoad’s new vessel is constructed.
Executive Chairman of SeaRoad, Chas Kelly, said the move reflected customer demand and would not only deliver more transport options for Tasmanian and mainland businesses, but also increase accessibility to Tasmania.
AIMPE Federal President, Martin Byrne, said that the move by SeaRoad is good news and shows a great deal of confidence in the Bass Strait trade. "This announcement confirming the replacement of the Searoad Tamar sees the departure of the last of the older generation of ships in the Bass Strait. The SeaRoad Board deserves congratulations for taking this step and AIMPE will be pleased to work with the company to assist in its smooth introduction into the service."
Further details including the ship's specifications can be found here:
SeaRoad_to_deliver_greater_capacity_with_new_charter_arrangement_-_3_December_2020_002.pdf (131.20 KB Fri Dec 4 11:45:59 2020)
Queensland coastal shipping promise
(updated 03 11 20)
Queensland may take the lead in the revival of the Australian coastal shipping industry following the re-election of the Palaszczuk Government on 31st October.
Just prior to the Queensland State election the Minister for Transport Mr Mark Bailey made an announcement which could prove significant for seafarers based in Queensland. The election eve promise was to commit $21 million in funding over two years to support a shipping service between Brisbane and Townsville.
The promise attracted media coverage in a number of local papers in the Townsville region. In the media release issued by the Minister it was stated that the new shipping service will be funded out of the existing port budget. The Minister indicated that there would be 40 jobs created initially. There was also an indication that the proposal would include a training component. It will be interesting to see if promise is delivered in the first year of the newly re-elected Government term of office.
Earlier in 2020 Minister Bailey established a Maritime Jobs Taskforce chaired by former MSQ head Mr Patrick Quirk. As was reported in the August On Watch AIMPE held videoconference briefings with Mr Quirk and provided him information on the state of coastal shipping in Australia in general and Queensland in particular. AIMPE provided Mr Quirk with copies of our recent submissions on coastal shipping to the Federal Government and also provided data on the number of Temporary Licence ships carrying cargoes on the Queensland coast.
AIMPE also drew attention to the emergence of regional LNG marine fuel hubs including in Singapore and Dampier and urged that consideration be given to the development of Gladstone as an East Coast LNG marine fuel hub.
Together with Mr Quirk on the Maritime Jobs Taskforce were Mr Chris Peters (Pacific Tug) and Mr Jason Miners (MUA Division CFMMEU). AIMPE understands that the Taskforce provided a written report to the Minister prior to the election campaign and that it included proposals for both the coastal shipping service within Queensland and for consideration of the LNG marine fuel hub concept.
AIMPE has urged that the full report be made public.
The idea of a Queensland coastal shipping service has been promoted in recent years by Hermes Maritime’s founder Steve Pelecanos. If there is a call for expressions of interest in running the proposed service then Hermes could be expected to be involved. However the more likely contenders are established operators such as Seaswift and Toll Shipping.
The Ministerial media release issued in late October is reproduced below for the information of members.
MR_Maritime_Jobs_Taskforce_FINAL.pdf (217.35 KB Tue Nov 3 11:10:19 2020)
Government discussion paper on coastal shipping
(posted 25 09 20)
After placing the reform of coastal shipping on hold soon after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has announced a new set of changes which seem designed to make life easier for the operators who exploit the Temporary Licence system which has allowed foreign flag ships with foreign crews to dominate many parts of the coastal shipping sector.
In a repeat of the position that the Government took during the 2019 consultations, the discussion paper states:
“Proposals for a strategic fleet, for high cost options, or for opening the coast will not be considered.”
So, what does the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications suggest?
Here are some of the proposals:
- Cargo and route nomination for general licence holders;
- Removal of five-voyage minimum for temporary licences;
- Automatic approvals of temporary licence applications where there is no approved general licence nomination;
- Variation of voyage details; and
- Removal of tolerance limits.
There is nothing in this proposal which will assist in growing the Australian flag coastal shipping sector. It will just make life simpler for the users of foreign shipping services on the Australian coast.
There is no indication that the Federal Government is concerned about the lack of sovereign control of Australia’s domestic shipping needs.
There will be no opportunities for young Australians seeking a career at sea.
AIMPE will be making a submission in response to this set of proposals and pointing out the lack of any vision for increasing the level of Australian participation in the coastal shipping industry.
Here is the full discussion paper:
Coastal_Trading_Reform_for_Cargo_Vessels__Discussion_Paper_September_2020.pdf (1.31 MB Fri Sep 25 11:46:36 2020)
Member comment is welcome and should be sent to:
Martin Byrne, Federal Secretary, email@example.com
Michael Bakhaazi, Director of Government Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org
AIMPE and AMOU call for new tanker fleet
(posted 25 09 20)
A joint submission of AIMPE and AMOU to the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs, defence and trade was lodged on 29th July.
The full submoission can be found here:
Sub_88_-_AIMPE_and_AMOU_redacted.pdf (267.46 KB Fri Sep 25 11:41:34 2020)
The particular terms of reference which are most relevant for the maritime industry are:
- Supply chain integrity / assurance to critical enablers of Australian security (such as health, economic and transport systems, and defence);
- What policy and practical measures would be required to form an ongoing effective national framework to ensure the resilience required to underpin Australia’s economic and strategic objectives;
The key to the AIMPE/AMOU submission is a call for Federal Government support for a new Australian tanker fleet:
“This situation has exposed the heavy over reliance of Australia on foreign shipping operators. Australia no longer has Australian ships to service most of our international trades and our coastal shipping requirements. Instead Australia relies on foreign shipping to carry all of our imports and all of our exports [bar 4 LNG tankers]. Australia also relies on foreign shipping to carry a large percentage of our domestic, coastal cargoes.
AIMPE & AMOU submit that in the sector of shipping services the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fact that Australia has become too reliant on foreign shipping services. Australia needs to start a process of re-establishing some Australian shipping capability and AIMPE and AMOU suggest that the key strategic area where this process should commence is in the area of petroleum tanker shipping.
AIMPE and AMOU propose that the Australian Government should call for expressions of interest in the operation of six petroleum tankers with modest Government support to provide an Australian flag fuel transport capability and in addition to commence the renewal of commercial maritime training for young Australians to begin to instil the element of sustainability into the maritime infrastructure.”
AIMPE Submission to Federal Government - November 2019
(uploaded 26 11 19)
AIMPE Director of Government Services, Michael Bakhaazi and Federal Secretary Martin Byrne attended consultations organised by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development on 1st November and briefed the bureaucrats on the ideas contained in AIMPE’s Maritime Australia plan which was prepared prior to the May Federal Election earlier this year. We also explored the meaning of the reference to “high cost subsidies” in the correspondence received from the Deputy Prime Minister in October.
Subsequently, the AIMPE Federal Executive approved the AIMPE submission on 15th November. The AIMPE submission seeks that the Australian Government enter into contracts with Australian shipping companies to operate a number of Australian flag coastal tankers to replace many of the foreign flag Temporary Licence ships currently carrying these cargoes around Australia. If accepted and implemented by the Government this would increase employment opportunities for qualified Australian Engineer Officers and Deck Officers. It would also help address the problem of the lack of fuel security and in addition it would require the companies to provide training opportunities for new entrant Australian Engineer Officers and Deck Officers - view the submission
AIMPE_Solutions_for_a_better_coastal_trading_system_15_11_19.pdf (232.48 KB Tue Nov 26 15:37:16 2019)
This latest submission does not aspire to implement all of the changes which were contained in AIMPE's Maritime Australia plan. There is no indication that the Government has any intention of changing course so dramatically on shipping policy. Instead the submission seeks to rely on the two major issues of lack of training of Australian officers and the lack of fuel security to justify a new policy of the Government contracting a number of petroleum tankers and gas tankers to operate on the Australian coast. These ships would effectively replace a number of the Temporary Licence ships which have been used by the oil and gas companies since the withdrawal of the Australian crewed tanker fleet.
This should be seen as an interim measure to retain a core of maritime skills and training opportunities in the Australian coastal trading sector. It is not proposed as the ideal long-term structure for the industry.
How to help promote the Maritime Australia plan
One way to help decide w ho to vote for is to take the AIMPE's Maritime Australia plan to your local candidates and ask whether they will support the plan and help turn the maritime industry around. Here is a link to the Maritime Australia booklet:
Its a 5 point plan to help turn the industry around after decades of decline.
Listed below are the details for all of the candidates in the 2019 Federal Election - as published by the Australian Electoral Commission. For ease of searching the AEC list has been separated into State and Territory order. The AEC list includes [for most candidates] their mobile phone numbers and email addresses.Contact your local candidate and ask for an appointment. Go and see them. Speak with them. Find out what they know about the Australian maritime industry. Ask them what their views are about the current state of the Australian maritime industry. Most importantly ask them if they will support the plan if they are elected to Parliament.
Call AIMPE’s Director of Government Relations Mr Michael Bakhaazi if you need a hand or want to assist – 0401 431 166 or email on email@example.com. Let him know how you go with your discussions with your local candidates.
AIMPE Submission to Senate Inquiry
On 19th March AIMPE filed a submission with the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee Inquiry into the policy, regulatory, taxation, administrative and funding priorities for Australian shipping.
The submission calls for the strengthening of Australia’s cabotage with specific recommendations for:
- The establishment of a new Maritime Development Agency to promote the growth of the Australian maritime industry;
- The introduction of taxation concessions at least equivalent to Singapore;
- The requirement for all participating companies to undertake ongoing training on all vessels;
- The amendment of the Shipping Registration Act to require all vessels operating in Australia to be registered in Australia; and
- The ATSB to become the single national marine incident investigator.
The submission can be downloaded here:
AIMPE welcomes Global Report on Cabotage
(posted 26 09 18)
AIMPE Federal President Martin Byrne has welcomed the release of a new independent report on cabotage laws in countries around the world.
The report was commissioned by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and was conducted by the research organisation Seafarers Rights International.
“AIMPE has opposed the watering down of Australia’s cabotage laws by the Federal Government and has instead called for a strengthening of cabotage in Australia” said Mr Byrne.
“Over the last 6 years Australia has seen the complete demise of our coastal tanker fleet and a further contraction in Australian flag dry bulk ships. Australia now has only 10 Australian flag ships over 2,000 dwt operating with a General Licence under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012."
"Australia needs to take urgent steps to correct this alarming development.”
“AIMPE proposes that the Shipping Registration Act 1981 should be amended so that any vessel which is continuously operated in Australian waters should be required to be registered in Australia. This would close the current loophole which allows the withdrawal of Australian ships and the introduction of continuously operating foreign flag ships with foreign crews under unlimited repeat temporary licences.”
"AIMPE and the AMOU, under the banner of the Nautilus Federation of Australia, have agreed to campaign in support of strenthening Australia's cabotage regime and will be working together on this issue over coming months."
Cabotage Laws of the World key findings:
- • Cabotage is “widespread”, with cabotage laws existing in 91 countries representing 80% of the
world’s coastlines of UN Maritime States.
- • Cabotage exists across all political, economic and legal systems.
- • Cabotage policy objectives are diverse, designed to: maintain national security, promote fair
competition, develop human capacity, create jobs, promote the shipping industry, promote
safety and security of ships in port, enhance marine environmental protection and/or preserve
maritime knowledge and technology.
- • Cabotage laws are diverse with a range of approaches taken by different countries regarding
virtually every aspect of cabotage, with great diversity in the interpretation, administration and
enforcement of cabotage.
- • Cabotage laws have endured for centuries, but continue to evolve.
- • Cabotage is not subject to a single definition accepted as binding on all states under
international law. Regional and national definitions of cabotage vary widely.
A full copy of the report is available here: https://seafarersrights.org/seafarers-subjects/cabotage/
AIMPE submission against Coastal Trading Bill
(posted 28 11 17)
AIMPE has lodged a submission with the Senate Committee inquiring into the Coastal Trading Bill.
The submission urges the Committee to oppose the Bill.
AIMPE is asking Senators to vote against the Bill because it will accelerate the removal of employment opportunities for Australian Engineer Officers.
The AIMPE submission has been published by the Senate Committee and can now be released to all members and other interested parties.
Here is a copy of the AIMPE submission:
Sub1_AIMPE.pdf (342.41 KB Tue Nov 28 16:45:18 2017)
AIMPE opposes Coastal Trading Bill
(posted 18 10 17)