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Shipping reforms to stimulate 'ailing' industry in Australia
01/06/2012 - A package of bills the government says will revitalise Australia's ailing shipping industry has passed the lower house after a lengthy debate.
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Transport Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday said the measures would enable Australian ships to compete better with foreign vessels.
It would mean Australian ships paying Australian wages to Australian crews would be given preference on coastal routes, he said.
Australian ships also would get tax incentives to help them compete with subsidised foreign vessels.
But the trade wouldn't be closed to foreign ships, which could compete under a new and flexible licensing system.
"We must be a shipping nation, not just a shipper," Albanese told parliament
Melissa Parke, the federal Labor member for Fremantle - the historic port city in West Australia - warned the government needed to act now or face losing its shipping industry.
"An Aussie flag on the back of an Aussie ship will be consigned to history," she told parliament.
But the opposition said the measures would impose new and more burdensome regulations on the industry and kill innovation.
Nationals leader Warren Truss moved to refer the measures to the Productivity Commission, which would have meant parliament couldn't pass them until next year.
His move was defeated by 71 votes to 69.
The government did, however, agree to one coalition amendment aimed at making the movement of cargo between ports more competitive and efficient.
The Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Bill 2012, Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2012, Shipping Registration Amendment (Australian International Shipping Register) Bill 2012, Shipping Reform (Tax Incentives) Bill 2012 and Tax Laws Amendment (Shipping Reforms) Bill 2012 move to the Senate.
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