The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has urged the government to overhaul the legislation and regulations governing coastal trading to infuse a new lease of life into the country’s crisis-stricken shipping industry.

MUA said that Australia’s shipping industry is in crisis and this scenario puts the nation’s economic, environmental, and national security at risk.

Suggesting a number of measures for the revival of the shipping industry in Australia, the MUA said that the government’s reform could address the issues and provide a multi-billion dollar benefit to the economy.

According to MUA, the Australian Government should offer tax incentives to support investment in ships, infrastructure and local seafarers.

It also recommends that the government should reform the seafarer visa system to improve maritime security and support skills investment.

The government should focus on developing a national strategic fleet to guarantee fuel security and improve the nation’s economic security.

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“With the right political leadership and policy settings, this dramatic decline can be arrested and our shipping industry can be rebuilt.”

The MUA recommended the government to develop a strategic approach to maritime workforce development and launch better ship safety and pollution reduction measures to protect Australia’s coastlines, tourism industry and oceans.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “There’s no question that Australian shipping is in crisis.

“Since 2013, we’ve lost more than half our remaining coastal fleet, leaving the country with just 12 large trading vessels to carry our growing coastal cargoes.

“With the right political leadership and policy settings, this dramatic decline can be arrested and our shipping industry can be rebuilt.”

“Each Australian vessel that is lost is replaced by foreign ships that don’t pay tax here, don’t employ local seafarers, and don’t support local maintenance and service businesses.

“The result is a major drain on the economy, with the use of foreign vessels to transport Australian resource and agricultural exports, along with coastal cargoes, estimated to be costing the nation more than A$8bn ($5.65bn) a year.”

Crumlin outlined the union’s vision to save Australian maritime industries, which would be achieved by expanding on the nation’s expertise and innovation in maritime sectors.