National Farmers' Federation

Opportunity for coastal shipping reform sails away

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) says the Senate’s failure to pass coastal shipping reform is a missed opportunity to restore competition around the Australian coast.
“A vibrant shipping industry is vital to a competitive agriculture sector. Open markets mean a more competitive economy and in the end, lower prices for consumers,” NFF President Brent Finlay said.
“Australian farmers have a strong market reputation as producers of high quality food and fibre. But Australia is a high price economy in comparison to other parts of the world, so our competitiveness is critical.
“As it stands, farmers and their suppliers have no right to choose who carries their goods around the coast, and no ability to negotiate a fair price for the service. It can be cheaper to ship goods for export than to supply the domestic market.
“Australia needs more efficient freight services – whether by air or sea, road or rail. The current cost of shipping is so prohibitive that most of the domestic freight task is carried on land, placing more pressure on our road and rail networks.
“Tasmania is a case in point, with enormous potential to increase the value of its agricultural production. But it is held back by ageing, unreliable, expensive transport systems. Reforming coastal shipping will bring new freight options and more regular, reliable services to the Tasmanian coast, unlocking its potential.
“Competition is a key driver of economic activity, which stimulates our national growth and prosperity. Last week the competitiveness reform agenda took a step backwards. Let’s not let this set a precedent for the future of freight policy in Australia,” Mr Finlay said.

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