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Union Critical of Repeal of Australian Business Name Protection

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By The Maritime Executive 10-14-2019 07:58:02

The repeal of legislation related to the former publicly-owned shipping company Australian National Line which was sold to French owner CMA CGM has passed the Australian Senate.

The primary aim of the ANL Legislation Repeal Bill is to remove the legal protection for a number of business names formerly used by the shipping company, including: ANL, Australian National Line, Maritime Agencies of Australia and Searoad.

The Maritime Union of Australia says the move highlights the ongoing failure of the Morrison Government’s to support a strong domestic shipping industry. “The Morrison Government has found the time to draw up legislation to allow the foreign owner of the former Commonwealth shipping line to use business names and domain names that deceptively suggest an ongoing link to Australian shipping, yet they’ve been unwilling to do anything to actually support the local industry or seafarers,” Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“ANL isn’t based in Australia, it no longer employs Australian seafarers, yet the Federal Government is passing legislation that is solely aimed at assisting this foreign business by removing restrictions on its use of deceptive business names likes Australian National Line and Maritime Agencies of Australia.

“It is embarrassing enough that the Australian National Line is no longer Australian, but it is truly insulting that the Morrison Government is putting more legislative effort into assisting this foreign company than they do to assist what remains of our domestic shipping industry.”

Crumlin said the Federal Government should be focusing its energies on supporting Australia’s economic and national security by investing in the strengthening of our domestic shipping industry.
“The number of Australian-owned and crewed vessels is continuing to shrink, with thousands of jobs lost in recent decades,” Crumlin said. “Not only has this had substantial economic and social impacts, it has left our island nation extremely vulnerable to any global conflicts or economic shocks that may disrupt maritime trade.”

“Rather than support Australian shipping, the Morrison Government has continued to issue licenses to foreign flag of convenience vessels to operate in our waters, supply our fuel, carry our resources and move cargo around the coast.

“There is a genuine crisis in Australian shipping, and it has potentially serious implications for all Australians, yet rather than take action, the Morrison Government is wasting their time with this insignificant and irrelevant legislation.”

Australian Shipping

According to a newly released Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics statistical report: Australian sea freight 2016–17, 5,845 uniquely identified cargo ships made a total of 32,801 port calls at Australian ports in 2016–17. These included 5,743 cargo ships which made 17,068 voyages to Australian waters from overseas ports.

In 2016–17, there were 143 vessels in the Australian trading fleet, with a total deadweight tonnage of 6.5 million tonnes and total gross tonnage of 4.7 million. The total deadweight tonnage and gross tonnage of the Australian trading fleet increased 10.7 and 8.4 percent per annum in trend terms respectively over the five years to 2016–17. Over the same time period the number of vessels increased by 2.0 per cent per annum in trend terms meaning that the average size of ships in the Australian trading fleet has increased over time.

The increased number of vessels in the Australian trading fleet over the five years to 2016–17 was driven by increasing numbers of major overseas registered international trading vessels and minor Australian registered trading vessels. However the increase in deadweight tonnage and gross tonnage was driven largely by major overseas registered international trading vessels.

The number of major (deadweight tonnage greater than 2,000 tonnes) Australian registered ships with a general licence increased by one to 15 in 2016–17 with the addition of the bulk carrier Donnacona. Another change was the replacement of Searoad Mersey with the larger Searoad Mersey II. This compares to 19 major Australian registered ships with a coastal trade licence in 2011–12. The total deadweight tonnage and gross tonnage of these ships declined by 16.2 and 9.7 percent per annum in trend terms respectively between 2011–12 and 2016–17.