GOVERNMENT must lead the way in pushing coastal shipping as a means of handling the coming “freight tsunami” Ports Australia chief executive Michael Gallacher says.
In a recent speech to the Australian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, Mr Gallacher announced Ports Australia had commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to conduct a “long overdue and much needed” review into coastal shipping.
The project, Mr Gallacher said, would be the largest such review of the sector and its objective was to seek out data in terms of the current state of coastal shipping, the current maritime workforce and identify the barriers preventing greater utilisation of the sector.
Mr Gallacher noted Australia’s population is projected to grow to 30m during the coming 12 years and the freight task is expected to grow along with population.
Moreover, during those same 12 years, Mr Gallacher said Australia’s containerised shipping is expected to grow by 165%, and non-containerised freight is expected to grow by 138%, with the overwhelming majority of containers delivered to the four existing container ports (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle).
Mr Gallacher said just 15% of the domestic freight in Australia was moved by coastal shipping in 2016, with rail’s share at 56% and road 29%.
“Coastal shipping’s contribution to the domestic freight task has grown over the past 25 years by 1% – rail has grown by 210% and road 61%,” he said.
“For a maritime nation with over 70 ports strategically located right around our country, each with road and rail access, each with maritime related industry nearby, in either a capital city or regional town….a continuation of this imbalance surely is not in our national interest.”
Mr Gallacher said ports were intrinsically linked to Australia’s prosperity, and ensuring “the gateways to Australia’s economy are healthy and vibrant is only a good thing for all Australia”.