AN ANNOUNCEMENT by the Queensland government of the creation of a Maritime Jobs Taskforce has been welcomed by Deputy Prime Minister and federal infrastructure minister Michael McCormack.

The Queensland taskforce, led by former MSQ general manager Patrick Quirk, held its first meeting this week.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr McCormack said the Australian government “welcomes the Queensland Government’s announcement of the establishment of a Maritime Jobs Taskforce to remove barriers and identify practical ideas and opportunities to grow the industry”.

“The Australian government recognises how our maritime industry contributes to the prosperity of the national economy and the wellbeing of all Australians, which is why we have an ongoing commitment to supporting the industry to maintain an efficient and safe maritime transport system as part of the supply chain,” the spokesperson told DCN.

The spokesperson also noted the challenges affecting the maritime sector during the pandemic.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the government has acted decisively to protect Australian maritime workers and the health of Australians by applying a number of enhanced border measures, including advice for people working in border environments such as ports to enable them to protect their health while still allowing ships to be loaded and unloaded,” the spokesperson said.

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“Through the Australian Maritime Safety Authority we also provided Australian seafarers impacted by COVID-19 with an automatic six-month extension on their qualifications to help keep people in jobs and support our commercial maritime industry at this critical time.”

The spokesperson said the government also had been looking to the future of shipping as a key transport mode and since October last year had been consulting with industry on options for changes to coastal trading arrangements and other key issues such as skills.

“While this consultation process was paused as a result of COVID-19, we will continue to engage with stakeholders again shortly,” the spokesperson said.

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