National Farmers' Federation

NFF on board with coastal shipping reform

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Warren Truss, at a Shipping Australia event in Sydney today, where he confirmed coastal shipping reform is firmly on the Government’s agenda. NFF President Brent Finlay said the comments were a positive sign from the Deputy Prime Minister that the Government is working to improve Australia’s freight network, driving further growth and productivity for the Australian economy. “Current coastal shipping regulation inhibits services around the Australian coast, making shipping too expensive for the majority of farmers. All this does is push domestic freight off ships and onto the already overloaded road and rail network,” Mr Finlay said. “Figures released today in the Australian Sea Freight Report show a decline of 10 million tonnes of coastal freight loaded in 2012-13 compared with five years before. This represents an average 2.4 per cent decline each year. “On top of that, a House of Representatives inquiry noted that the cost differential between ships operated with Australian crews and foreign crews was approximately $2 million per year,” Mr Finlay said. Mr Finlay said improving competition around the Australian coast will help unlock the potential of the Australian agribusiness and farm sector. “Australian agriculture faces significant opportunity, but to take advantage of this requires strong leadership and policy settings that promote growth,” Mr Finlay said. “To remain competitive, Australia needs a long term vision for infrastructure. Pursuing least cost pathways to market is a priority for the NFF. Australian products must be able to move quickly from the farm gate into domestic and overseas markets at a price that delivers a return to the farmer. “Australia has a reputation as a reliable and sustainable provider of quality food and fibre. But we also have an economy where costs are high in comparison to other parts of the world. To compete with overseas markets, we need efficient and effective freight systems. “The NFF welcomes the opportunity to work with government on getting infrastructure policy settings right so that they deliver for Australian agriculture in the longer term,” Mr Finlay said. Earlier this year the NFF made a submission to government on Coastal Shipping Regulation in Australia, calling for laws that promote efficient and effective maritime services. A copy of the submission is available http://www.nff.org.au/submissions-search.html?subcategoryid=3420[here]

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