(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

(posted 06 05 21)

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:

Reply_from_Deputy_PM_20210504_065815.pdf Reply_from_Deputy_PM_20210504_065815.pdf



Members campaign for coastal tanker fleet

(posted 26 04 21)

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 - or

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 - or



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.

List of Nationals Senators and MPs
If you know your own local Nationals Federal MP or Senator please write to them asking for their support for the coastal tanker. Here is a list of the Nationals MPs with contact details:
AIMPE's Letter to the Deputy PM seeking support
The AIMPE letter to the Deputy PM which was sent in March is here:
AIMPE/AMOU joint submission re Coastal Tanker Fleet
The AIMPE/AMOU joint submission calling for Federal Government support for a coastal tanker fleet is here:
The AIMPE/AMOU joint submission is a public document and can be freely quoted or circulated.

AIMPE farewells Searoad Tamar and welcomes Liekut

(posted 06 04 21)

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

(posted 24 03 21)

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:

AIMPE_letter_to_Deputy_PM_Hon_M_McCormack_24_03_21_for_website.pdf AIMPE_letter_to_Deputy_PM_Hon_M_McCormack_24_03_21_for_website.pdf



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:

PolicyregulatorytaxationadministrativeandfundingprioritiesforAustralianshipping.pdf PolicyregulatorytaxationadministrativeandfundingprioritiesforAustralianshipping.pdf

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 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 MR_Maritime_Jobs_Taskforce_FINAL.pdf (217.35 KB Tue Nov 3 11:10:19 2020)


Martin Byrne

Federal Secretary

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:

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 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,

Michael Bakhaazi, Director of Government Relations,

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 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:


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 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:

Maritime_Australia_booklet.pdf 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 Let him know how you go with your discussions with your local candidates.

ACT Candidates

ACT Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

NSW Candidates

NSW Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

NT Candidates

NT Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

QLD Candidates

QLD Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

SA Candidates

SA Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

Tasmanian Candidates

TAS Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

Victorian Candidates

Victorian Candidates for 2019 Federal Election

WA Candidates

WA Candidates for 2019 Federal Election


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:

  1. The establishment of a new Maritime Development Agency to promote the growth of the Australian maritime industry;
  2. The introduction of taxation concessions at least equivalent to Singapore;
  3. The requirement for all participating companies to undertake ongoing training on all vessels;
  4. The amendment of the Shipping Registration Act to require all vessels operating in Australia to be registered in Australia; and
  5. The ATSB to become the single national marine incident investigator.

The submission can be downloaded here:

AIMPE_Submission_to_the_Senate_Committee_Inquiry_into_Australian_shipping.pdf AIMPE Submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into Australian Shipping

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:

world’s coastlines of UN Maritime States.

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.

virtually every aspect of cabotage, with great diversity in the interpretation, administration and

enforcement of cabotage.

international law. Regional and national definitions of cabotage vary widely.

A full copy of the report is available here:

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 Sub1_AIMPE.pdf (342.41 KB Tue Nov 28 16:45:18 2017)

AIMPE opposes Coastal Trading Bill

(posted 18 10 17)

AIMPE's opposition to the Coastal Trading Bill has been placed on the front page of The Global Seafarer - the newspaper of the Nautilus Federation. The Nautilus Federation now has 18 affiliates from around the world.

To read the article and the whole of The Global Seafarer use this link:

Global_SeaFarer_October_2017.pdf Global_SeaFarer_October_2017.pdf (2.35 MB Wed Oct 18 14:40:58 2017)

AIMPE calls for new approach to cabotage

(updated 31 05 17)

The AIMPE submission in response to the Federal Government's Coastal Shipping Reform Discussion Paper has called for a new approach to cabotage regulation for the Australian coastal trades.

One key shortfall of the current regulatory regime is that the Shipping Registration Act requires all vessels owned by an Australian citizen or an Australian company to be registered in Australia. If ownership of a ship is transferred to an overseas owned entity then the obligation to register is avoided.

By contrast other forms of transport which operate in Australia are required by Australian law to be registered in Australia. All aircraft that operate in Australia are required to be registered in Australia and comply with all Australian laws. All road vehicles that operate on public roads in Australia are required to be registered in Australia and comply with all Australian laws.

AIMPE has called for the Shipping Registration Act to be amended to require that all vessels operating in Australian waters [the waters of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone] should be required to be registered in Australia and comply with all Australian laws. This would provide a solid basis for the Australian maritime industry.

AIMPE believes that Government policy formulation in relation to the Shipping industry has suffered from being overshadowed by the big spending portfolios of roads and railways. In order to address this problem, AIMPE recommends the creation of new Minister for Shipping with a brief not only to regulate the maritime industry in Australia but also to promote Australian flag shipping and the Australian maritime industry generally.

Lloyd's List Australia carried the following report on the AIMPE submission:

AIMPE's full submission can be found here:

AIMPE_response_to_Coastal_Shipping_Reform_Discussion_Paper_31_05_17.pdf AIMPE_response_to_Coastal_Shipping_Reform_Discussion_Paper_31_05_17.pdf (1.01 MB Wed May 31 11:30:11 2017)

Government discussion paper on coastal shipping

 (posted 25 09 20)

After placing the reform of coastal shipping