Australia is an island continent, located in a relatively remote part of the globe. Nearly all of the country’s imports and exports are transported in the hulls of foreign shipping vessels. As well, a substantial proportion of Australia’s domestic freight also depends on coastal shipping.
Currently, the Australian Maritime Sector directly contributes billions of dollars to the GDP, employs approximately 40,000 people and contributes nearly a billion dollars in taxation revenue. Given its importance, the Australian government has emerged with a single goal: More Australian seafarers crewing more Australian flagged ships carrying more Australian goods around the Australian coastline.
Research found amongst other things that if we were a nation that supported our own maritime industry, we would increase our GDP by $25 billion. We would increase employment to over 55,000, as well as add more than $2 billion to direct tax revenue. – Teresa Lloyd, Maritime Industry Australia Limited CEO
Most consumer goods in Australia are imported from countries all over the world. The recent consolidation of shipping lines will mean less competition in the international market, and will threaten price increases for Australian exporters and importers. To address this appropriately, a revamp of Australia’s national shipping policy and, more urgently, their coastal trading policy. Many industry experts feel the current federal government’s shipping policy is inadequate.
With approximately a tenth of global sea trade flowing through Australian ports, there is no nation on earth in which having a viable shipping industry is so important to economic stability. Because of this, in the future the international community will see the strengthening of supply chain partnerships – including shipping lines and their customers, as well as other vital links in Australia’s transport chain. If the government fails to invest in the sector, there will be further deterioration and more job losses in the shrinking Australian shipping industry.