House debates

Monday, 13 August 2018


Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017; Second Reading

6:49 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act was introduced in 2012 as part of a suite reforms designed to provide the Australian shipping industry with a stable framework and indeed to encourage further investment. Unfortunately that has not been the case. Since implementation of the current framework, the decline in the number of Australian flagged vessels has unfortunately continued. The reality at the moment is that many ageing Australian registered vessels are not being replaced. The sector is ostensibly in decline. This bill was intended to balance the interests of the Australian shipping industry and users of shipping services by regulating Australian and foreign flagged ships through a licensing system. Unfortunately this simply hasn't happened. Australian businesses have faced such significant issues accessing coastal shipping that they've given up and frankly started sending their products by road or rail. Something has to change.

My particular interest in the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017, notwithstanding the important areas of coastal shipping, has to do with the framework regarding superyachts, however, because this bill also supports an increase in visits to Australia by superyachts. The current coastal trading framework makes it difficult, indeed almost impossible, for foreign flagged superyachts to offer charter services in Australia, which they would like to undertake to defray the cost of operations. This bill makes changes to the coastal trading act that better align the framework with the operating model for superyachts, allowing a single voyage application, and departure and return to the same port. These minor changes should make coming to Australia more attractive for superyachts and increase job opportunities.

Unfortunately most superyachts go to Fiji or New Zealand because of customs importation duty and taxes. A one-voyage minimum requirement will allow superyachts to operate under the licensing system and obtain exemption from the current Customs Act and not pay duty. The drama of course at present is that, when a superyacht wishes to visit, it literally has to be imported, and a cost of 10 per cent of its total cost is applied to it. Clearly, no yacht is going to come here and do that if that's the cost of them having to charter. Therefore, Australia misses out on an entire opportunity to enhance the business of sailing in this country.

Opening Australia to the superyacht market will bring important trade and tourism benefits not only to areas of the Gold Coast, where I live, but to rural and regional areas in Far North Queensland. Small businesses in Cairns, the Whitsundays and Port Douglas, amongst others, will benefit greatly from it. In 2016, Superyacht Australia and the Queensland Treasury commissioned an economic impact study of the superyacht sector for the Queensland Labor government. The Queensland Superyacht Strategy envisages that, by 2023, Queensland's share of the global superyacht industry will have increased by 10 per cent and Queensland will be recognised as a key superyacht hub in the Asia-Pacific region. This can only happen if we make these changes. This growth would create thousands and thousands of new high-skilled jobs and contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state's economy. The Queensland state Labor government support this inclusion, and they have come out publicly to support it. It's easy to see why they support it. Looking at the economic benefit alone, the ability for yachts to charter simply by taking away this customs impost on them will add an additional 11,800 jobs and $1.64 billion by 2021. This is the Queensland state Labor government's modelling, not this government's. The Queensland state Labor government is calling on the opposition to join us in this. The huge events in the Pacific over the next three years will mean a large number of superyachts will be in our region. There is the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and the America's Cup in Auckland in 2021.

There is no loss of GST for the government. This is despite the member for Sydney's ridiculous question before the winter break about us somehow not wanting superyachts to pay GST but GST being on tampons, like the two are aligned in any way, shape or form, when this couldn't be further from the truth. This is an issue of a 10 per cent impost through customs duty, nothing more, nothing less. The dear member for Sydney simply didn't understand what she was talking about. There's no loss of GST for the government. Indeed, current foreign superyachts come in under a control permit and don't pay any taxes at all. Permitting charter will actually see the government receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in GST. It's actually the opposite of what the member for Sydney had said. Removing this customs restriction allows yachts to come in to charter, and GST will be charged and earnt, which currently is not the case. It's a win-win all around, something the Queensland state Labor government seems to understand.

Australians dominate the industry, with over a quarter of the world's crew being Australians. By supporting superyacht charters in Australia, we'll be supporting over 14,000 crew, new-age, highly skilled and well-paid seafarers—and 25 per cent of them are Australians. Tradesmen and small businesses are the huge winners from superyachts spending time in Australia, with each vessel spending millions of dollars, or 10 to12 per cent of the vessel's value, annually in maintenance and provisions directly into—predominantly—small family-owned businesses or small businesses with union membership.

New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti all have booming superyacht industries dominated by charter vessels. Australia needs to permit charter to allow a similar boom in our industry here, along with the thousands of skilled trade jobs and economic benefits that come with it. Regions that have a high level of charter activity receive substantial international marketing exposure, which then encourages further investment in locally based vessels, infrastructure and repair facilities.

We're talking about an industry valued at just below $2 billion to Australia. If we were to make this simple change, the annual maintenance value of what is possible is $575 million in operational expenses. Currently we're earning nothing; it could be $415 million. The number of Australian maritime jobs could be well over 11,000. The total annual wages and salaries that would derive from this would be $1.2 billion. These are Queensland state Labor government figures from its study with the superyacht industry. All we need to do is make some simple changes to stop this ridiculous customs duty impost on vessels. At present, we're getting nothing. We have the opportunity to envisage an industry that is alive and growing, an industry to support 14,000 young Australians on these boats, an industry that will see over 11,000 Australians employed in high-tech areas to support these vessels, and the government earning GST on the charter of these vessels.

It's a little bit of a no-brainer: the opportunity to build an industry we don't have. And what makes it so frustrating is that every other country in the region has moved away from these custom import tariffs. We are the sole bastion of stupidity in the Pacific, where we alone are saying, 'If you come here, your boat has to be imported, and if you wish to charter, you've got to pay 10 per cent of the value of your yacht before you can charter.' So when the Dragonfly came in—the fastest superyacht in the world—not only did it take a month of negotiation to get it in, but, when it came in, it couldn't charter—because if it had wanted to, it would have had to pay 10 per cent of its value. For an $80 million yacht, that's $8 million for the purpose of chartering: ridiculous! So it didn't charter. And if they can't charter to defray costs, they don't come here for repair and maintenance, so we lose out on an entire industry because of a nonsense of a customs regulation.

For the love of all that is sacred, can we all just look at this, and not with the eyes of envy as the member for Sydney did—so ridiculously, so stupendously—at question time before we came in here; not understanding what she was talking about, running off at the mouth, linking superyachts somehow as some enviable thing compared to tampons, which is the current great issue of GST. Can we look at this in the cold light of day: what is actually sensible? It's a customs impost. Remove it. Let's allow an industry to grow. Let's allow 11,000 high-tech workers to be employed. Let's allow GST to be collected when these yachts charter. Let's do something sensible on this. We've been talking about this for years, and we are nowhere. This is such a no-brainer, and it is supported publicly by the Labor state government in Queensland. Can we just get this particular thing done?

6:59 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I rise to speak to the House about the Australian shipping industry; in particular, the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017. Maritime security is critical to the economy and to our national interest. As an island nation with such a strong maritime history, the federal government has a responsibility to maintain our capabilities in this area. However, unfortunately, this government has consistently shown no such regard for Australian shipping and shipowners, and continues its attempts to force through legislation that would compromise their ability to compete with foreign vessels and undermine our national maritime capabilities. Labor knows how important shipping is to this country. That's why we developed and passed the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Bill in 2012, and that's why we've opposed this government's repeated attempts to degrade its protection of the Australian maritime industry.

This bill offers a raft of measures that will make it easier for foreign flagged vessels to operate in Australian waters, while providing absolutely nothing for Australian flagged vessels. The proposal before the House would increase tolerance limits from their current level of plus or minus 20 per cent of the nominated cargo or passenger volumes to 200 per cent more or 100 per cent less. It would also change the current loading window from plus or minus five days to 30 days either side of the authorised date. This drastic increase of volume tolerance limits and loading windows would make it impossible for Australian owned and operated ships that hold general licences to compete with foreign vessels holding temporary licences. These provisions would, according to the Maritime Union of Australia, totally undermine accepted commercial arrangements and make it impossible for a general licence holder to contest a cargo, as a general licence holder would not know what they were contesting.

Maritime Industry Australia Limited, which is the peak industry group for Australian shippers, also opposes these changes, claiming that the integrity of the system is undermined, as general licence holders' rights and opportunities are reduced. They go on to state that without tolerances being meaningful the system may as well be deregulated entirely. The Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers has stated that under these proposals the ultimate voyage carried out may bear no resemblance to the original voyage for which the temporary licence was granted, and AIMPE opposes these proposals. One of the biggest shipping groups in this country, CSL, says of this legislation that 'the current date tolerance seems unreasonable', and True North Adventure Cruises, a tourism operator off north-western Australia, has warned that the proposed changes would allow foreign operators to game the system.

This overwhelming chorus of opposition from key stakeholders reflects the dangers of these proposals to the future of Australian shipping and maritime capabilities. These proposals will not see one extra Australian job in our maritime industry or put one extra Australian flagged ship on our coast. Until we see something different from this government—something that allows Australian shipping to stay competitive both now and into the future—the Labor Party will continue to oppose these reforms.

This government has form on this issue. This government has tried this before, and the response from stakeholders was clear. The only way forward for shipping in this country is a policy that is founded on proper consultation and has bipartisan support. The minister has himself acknowledged this, claiming in his own discussion paper that another key message from my recent stakeholder consultations is that regulatory certainty, ideally bipartisanship, is essential for investment. I would implore the government to go back to their drawing board and listen to the industry and stakeholders and follow a proper consultation process, just as Labor did when we created the original legislation and came back to the House with something that puts Australian jobs first and Australian workers first.

Unfortunately the government's record in this area is dismal reading. I recall their previous attempts, in 2015, to tear down the Australian shipping industry—and I don't say those words lightly. They were intending to destroy the Australian shipping industry. You don't have to take my word for it. You only have to read the regulatory impact statements that accompanied the 2015 legislation, stating in black and white that under their proposition 1,000 of the 1,100 workers employed in the industry would be sacked as a result of this legislation. Let me repeat that: the RIS for the 2015 bill stated that more than 90 per cent of the Australian maritime workforce would be put out of work under plans put forward by this government. Rarely has a government been so incompetent—or maybe so startlingly honest—as to say that their legislation would result in 90 per cent of an industry's workforce being sacked. Yet this is what this government attempted in 2015, and what we see now is a watered-down attempt at the same thing.

In contrast, the coastal shipping laws that Labor put in place created a level playing field, requiring that Australian wages and conditions be observed if ships are here for a certain amount of time. Let me repeat a simple premise: if a ship were here for a certain amount of time, it would have to pay Australian wages and conditions—not an unreasonable thing. If someone wants to truck goods down an Australian highway, they have to pay Australian wages and conditions. Why is it different for the blue-water highway? If a ship works the Australian coastal trading route for a reasonable amount of time, it should have to pay Australian wages and honour Australian conditions. Anything else is an attack on Australian workers.

The bill in 2015 was essentially Work Choices on water, the driving down of wages and conditions to Third World standards. What we were talking about then and what we are back to argue for today is maintaining Labor's record and regulations in this space. We're not taking an extreme position on this. In fact, Australia has one of the most liberal coasting trading regimes in the world. The rest of our G20 partners have much more restrictive policies in this area than we do, including Japan, the United Kingdom and most European countries. Even China has closed shipping lanes. The United States, the supposed bastion of the free market and free trade, has the Jones Act which legislates that all ships that service the US coastal shipping route must hire American seafarers and must pay US wages and conditions. In fact, the ships must be built in the United States. Yet this government, time and time again, tries to drag us the other way, to the detriment of the national interest.

This bill represents yet another in a sequence of attacks on coastal shipping in this country under the Turnbull government. It is a shameful record of attacks on the maritime industry and the proud and skilled workforce that service that industry. We saw this when 30 security guards boarded Alcoa's ship the MV Portland in the middle of the night to remove five Australian crew that were protesting their sacking. The security personnel then brought aboard a foreign crew who sailed the ship immediately for Singapore. The sacking of 40 Australian workers who staffed this vessel right before Christmas was bad enough, but to employ such tactics to get rid of this issue in the middle of the night was worse still. This midnight guerrilla raid marked the low point for Australian shipping at the time, and this government has continued to oversee the degradation of Australian coastal shipping since then. In fact, a few months after the MV Portland incident, the Turnbull government issued a temporary licence to Pacific Aluminium for 30 voyages in 2016, which allowed them to sack the crew of the CSL Melbourne and bring in a Greek owned ship travelling under a flag of convenience. A foreign ship replaced an Australian vessel and a foreign crew replaced Australian workers, with no regulation or standards regarding their wages or working conditions.

These were ships that had been doing regular trade and employing Australian workers for a long time. The CSL Melbourne had been running alumina on the east coast for over five years, while the MV Portland had been shipping alumina from Western Australia to Portland's aluminium smelter for 27 years. These were well-established, longstanding Australian shipping lanes which employed Australian maritime workers and supported Australian industry. Now all this has been replaced by fraudulent temporary licensing and foreign crews with unknown working conditions, and the government wants to expand this model further. This was not temporary trade. This was regular trade. This was a trade that had been undertaken for 27 years, as predictable as night following day, shipping alumina from the refineries to the aluminium smelters. Yet this government issued temporary licences that allowed Australian crews to be sacked and to be frogmarched off the ships in the middle of the night, replaced by crews who were exploited and paid $2 a day. That is wholly unacceptable, but this is the attitude of this government.

It paints a sorry picture of the future of coastal shipping in Australia that will have consequences not just for our workers but for the nation as a whole. Maritime infrastructure and workers are not just economically vital; they also represent a core pillar of our national security. To protect our borders and ensure the safety of all Australians, we must maintain not only a strong shipbuilding sector, including maintenance and repair, but also a strong merchant navy. History has shown time after time that these capabilities are crucial to our national interest, regional security and participation in the international community. Going forward, we must look not just to protect our maritime systems but also to improve and strengthen them so as to remain not only competitive but also secure. We are an island nation. We need a skilled merchant marine if we are to maintain our national sovereignty. It is important to acknowledge at this time that the Merchant Navy had the highest casualty rate in World War II, after Bomber Command. These are highly skilled and dangerous jobs in wartime, and we need a skilled Australian workforce to maintain that capability.

In addition to the economic security and social benefits of a strong Australian shipping industry, there are tangible environmental benefits. In my region, and across the nation as a whole, we've seen that foreign vessels, when compared to domestic operators, show less regard for environmental protections in force in Australian waters. Whether it is the preservation of national icons such as the Great Barrier Reef, or ships ignoring port authorities to disastrous effect, like the Pasha Bulker in my home region of the Hunter, it is clear that an increase in the number of foreign vessels is dangerous to our maritime and coastal environment. Time after time, we have seen the results when foreign flagged vessels ignore environmental regulations, whether they run aground on the Great Barrier Reef or, as in 2007, when the crew of the Pasha Bulker ignored the requirements to move further offshore, wash up on Nobbys Beach in Newcastle. If we allow foreign flagged vessels to dominate our coastal trading, we are risking our national environmental icons.

Beyond our natural heritage areas and their associated beauty, there is a direct economic impact. The attractions of the Great Barrier Reef mean employment for 68,000 Australians in the tourism industry and drive $9 billion of gross domestic product each year. The maritime industry also provides security for workers across this country, from Fremantle to Adelaide and Melbourne, and right up and down the east coast. This bill would place workers in tourism, shipping, shipbuilding, maintenance and other related industries in an uncertain and unacceptable situation. We have seen enough examples of the poor conditions and wages afforded to workers on foreign flagged vessels to know that we must do whatever it takes to ensure that hardworking Australians are not forced into these situations. In fact, the last time the government tried to overhaul this legislation, the Senate heard that changing the law to favour foreign flagged vessels would result in catastrophic job losses across the sector and a significant drop in wage and workplace standards, and that any regulatory savings claimed would be built on the back of those. The government is again looking out for big multinationals and leaving Australian workers in the lurch.

Because I have an electorate that is on the coast, with the Pacific Ocean on our eastern border and the great Lake Macquarie, Lake Munmorah and Budgewoi Lake on the western border of the electorate, it has many seafarers, both those who are employed and those who are out of work. When I have a mobile office, I meet seafarers who haven't been able to find jobs for years on end because of this government's neglect of the industry. It does not have to be that way. We should have Australian crews on Australian ships on Australian coastal trading routes who are paid Australian wages and are under Australian conditions. That is what every other advanced nation in the world does. The fact that we do not do that is a horrible indictment of this government—a government that, yet again, is betraying workers and compromising the maritime security and the environmental integrity of this nation when there are foreign crews on flag-of-convenience ships being paid $2 a day. It is unacceptable.

I'm proud to be part of a party that in 2012 tried to change that and got important laws through. We will stand up against this government's constant attack on the maritime industry and on maritime workers, their wages and their conditions, because their families and their livelihoods depend upon it.

7:14 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support this bill, the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017, which I believe will have significant benefits for my own electorate of Fisher. In particular, I believe that, as one of the nation's premier coastal tourist destinations, Fisher, along with other coastal regions in Australia, will benefit substantially from the additional tourism generated by the changes proposed to the regulation of superyachts.

While I do believe that my community of Fisher has been too dependent until now on the tourism and construction sectors, I also firmly believe that attracting tourists will always remain one of the central pillars of our region's economic success. After all, the southern and central Sunshine Coast is undoubtedly the greatest tourism destination in Australia. There is nowhere in our country, perhaps in the world, that can boast our unique combination of natural assets and our unbeatable lifestyle, and I'm committed to doing all I can to support and grow tourism in Fisher. Tourist numbers on the coast have been growing strongly, with international visitors up 20 per cent over the past three years. However, unfortunately, the average spend per visitor has not been increasing at the same rate. We need to do more to encourage high-net-worth visitors to Fisher who will spend big in our local businesses. One way that we can achieve that end would be to encourage more international superyachts to visit our community and to stay for longer. We have the perfect place in Fisher for these vessels to begin and end their cruises. That is at the Mooloolaba Spit, where facilities like the Browns Slipway operated today by the Rockliff family could offer just the place for these yachts to be maintained.

Superyachts fall into two broad categories. Some are operated by companies solely as charter businesses. They travel from port to port, picking up clients and taking them on short cruises. Others are owned by a wealthy individual or individuals, families or corporations and are primarily intended for private use. However, these too can often be chartered. When the owner has stopped at a port or during times when the yacht is travelling independently and the owner is otherwise occupied, the yacht is often made available to others to charter for short cruises. Each of these charter types can bring significant economic benefits to a particular region. For privately owned yachts which are being used by a wealthy individual or group of individuals, the presence alone of those people in a region can bring material benefits in terms of the money spent during their stay. In general, the longer the stay, the more money these individuals spend. If commercial charter opportunities are available for these yachts during their owners' visit, it will encourage them to remain longer within a region and spend more money.

Further, the very possibility of commercial charter opportunities will often make a port more attractive to owners, making it more likely that they will choose that particular city as a destination. In the case of yachts owned by companies purely as charter vessels, there are still substantial benefits to a local economy when yachts choose to operate from their port. On the one hand, the fact that a particular yacht is going to be available for charter from a port is often a strong draw to that place for high-net-worth individuals. Though primarily travelling in order to undertake the cruise, those visitors will commonly spend additional time in that city, bringing valuable tourism dollars to the local economy. However, the tourism benefits of the presence of these yachts to a community like Fisher goes beyond the income generated directly by the people who undertake the cruise. The word-of-mouth advertising created by these well-connected people can bring many more high-value tourists, while, for some, the perceived glamour of these vessels in itself can increase the attractiveness of a tourist destination. For many of the more than 300,000 people who visit the tiny city of Monaco every year, it is the image of rows of large luxury yachts and the glamour with which they are associated that make up a substantial part of the reason for going.

Finally, in both cases, the additional time that a yacht spends in a particular port due to its being available for charter substantially increases the likelihood that the vessel will undergo maintenance and repair at that very location. With some of the largest of these yachts costing millions of dollars to repair, the income generated by this activity can be significant. In February this year, for example, a single superyacht, the Dragonfly, docked at Gold Coast City Marina in Queensland for what was reported in the media to be more than $1 million worth of repairs and upgrades. However, a community like my own electorate of Fisher does not necessarily need a repair and dry dock facility to benefit from the maintenance required by superyachts. A ship which is charted requires supplies like food and consumables, fresh water and fuel. The longer a yacht stays in a port the more likely it will be to spend on these supplies and the more revenue generated for producers and dock facilities like those in Mooloolaba.

A December 2016 analysis by AEC Group, commissioned by Superyacht Australia and the Queensland Treasury, found that in total the superyacht industry already contributes about $590 million directly to Australian GDP, with $1.38 billion in flow-on activity. One hundred and ninety million dollars per annum is already generated by foreign tourists and crew expenditure, which would otherwise not have occurred in the Australian economy.

In total, more than 14,500 jobs are supported by superyachts and their supply chains. However, worldwide and particularly in our region, the demand for superyacht activities is increasing. With the growing class of wealthy individuals in China and Asia, along with economic development in other countries in the region and increasingly saturated waterways in Europe and the Caribbean, more and more people are interested in superyacht cruising in the Asia-Pacific. Countries in our region, such as New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti have moved to make their regulatory and taxation regimes more encouraging to superyacht visits, and as a result are currently set to reap most of the benefits of this growth.

In short, while many yachts visit Australian waters to see the Great Barrier Reef, far too few stop to enjoy the hospitality of our coastal communities. As such, at present the superyacht sector's annual contribution to the Australian economy is forecast to grow at a rate of 13 per cent to 2021. However, if we can reduce the regulatory barriers which discourage visits from these vessels, the industry modelling suggests that this contribution will grow by as much as 70 per cent over the same period, delivering a total economic revenue of $3.34 billion by 2021 and supporting 8,100 more jobs.

My own state of Queensland would be likely to be a particular beneficiary with our share of the global superyacht sector increasing by 10 per cent, contributing more than $1.1 billion to gross state product. It is just that reduction in regulatory barriers which this bill will achieve, and for that reason I believe it will make an important contribution to growing tourism income on the Sunshine Coast.

In our region, superyachts are charted for one or two voyages at a time. The number of individuals or organisations who have the financial means and the time to charter such a large vessel are certainly finite and their needs are often very specific. A voyage on a superyacht for most personal and corporate users is a very occasional activity with a particular purpose. As such, as these vessels move around the world they often stop off at a port for a single charter. However, at present in order to acquire a temporary licence to conduct coastal trading in Australia a superyacht must have a minimum of five specific voyages booked and listed on its application. Without a temporary licence an owner looking to offer their yacht for charter in Australia faces enormous costs associated with paying customs importation duty and taxes on these vessels. Any subsequent changes to these voyages need to go through a lengthy and uncertain variation process in order to go ahead. This bill removes that unnecessary, ridiculous government red tape, making it possible for a yacht to acquire a temporary licence in the much more likely scenario that it has one or two charter voyages planned.

Further, it is obviously in the nature of cruises for pleasure that many of them begin and end in the same port. These are not practical journeys designed to get a person from one place to another but short visits to a particular location, or simple round trip experiences, to be enjoyed. However, at present, to constitute a voyage for which a temporary licence can be acquired under the coastal trading act, a trip must begin and end in a different port. This renders ineligible a substantial proportion of superyacht cruises which could take place from ports like Mooloolaba. This bill removes that restriction by broadening the definition of a voyage under the act to include those which begin and end in the same port.

Finally, at present, the amount of refitting and maintenance of foreign flagged yachts that can be undertaken in Australia is limited by the fact that dry-docking is not included among the activities eligible for a temporary licence. Once again, this bill removes that restriction, meaning that more vessels will be refitted and maintained in Australia. This will potentially bring millions of dollars to the communities where repairs take place and further increase the number of tourists who visit all of our coastal regions.

Not only will this bill's amendments to the regulations regarding temporary licences improve our country's attractiveness to superyachts, but the minister and my colleagues have laid out a wide range of other benefits that will flow from this legislation. However, for communities like mine in Fisher and for coastal regions all over Australia, the billions of extra tourism dollars which will be generated by these luxury vessels are reason enough to enact the bill before us. I note that even the Queensland state Labor government have recognised the importance of these changes, and I welcome their support for the growth of superyacht visitation to our state. I would encourage members opposite to follow their Queensland colleagues in this matter and support the Turnbull government's practical and considered action to make the most of our nation's natural assets.

This bill is not about some form of class warfare. What is important to me is that this bill is about providing jobs to regional Australian communities. If those opposite are fair dinkum about Australian workers, they should be supporting this bill. This bill is not, as the member for Sydney would suggest it is, for the rich and famous, to advantage them. This bill will provide jobs to hardworking Australians. It will provide jobs in the maintenance sector. So often this is a sector which is doing it tough in shipping. I know that in and around Mooloolaba, where I live, the coastal fishing vessels are certainly doing it very tough. What happens with these areas is that, when one boat leaves a particular fishery, another boat might leave and then another boat might leave, and then we see infrastructure start to crumble, because infrastructure requires a certain degree of mass and, when boats leave, infrastructure also leaves with it. This bill will enable the infrastructure for marine vessels to remain in ports like Mooloolaba in my electorate of Fisher and throughout the coastal parts of Australia. It will mean jobs. It will mean towns will be able to provide for their communities. I commend the bill to the House.

7:28 pm

Photo of Justine KeayJustine Keay (Braddon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017. I cannot understand what the member opposite said. This bill will decimate seafaring jobs in this country and will decimate the maritime industry of Australia. I waited 11 weeks through a gruelling by-election campaign to come into this place and speak on this bill.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Why is that?

Photo of Justine KeayJustine Keay (Braddon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Why is that? Because my dad was a seafarer, I say to the member opposite, so it is very important to me that we protect seafaring jobs and our maritime industry in this country. He can walk off with a smirk on his face knowing that he is going to support a bill that will destroy Australian seafaring jobs, for those jobs to be replaced by foreign workers.

But this bill is important for a range of other reasons as well. Coastal shipping is vital to the economy of my electorate and the state of Tasmania. This side of the House believes in a strong Australian coastal shipping industry. I've seen and understand what role the local maritime industry can play in peoples' lives. This industry is one that is too important to play political games with.

Debate interrupted.