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DESPITE headwinds over the past two years the Australian shipping industry should be proud of its achievements, according to NSW transport minister David Elliott.

Mr Elliott highlighted shipping’s role in the nation’s economic and social progress during his address at Shipping Australia’s parliamentary luncheon, held on Thursday at NSW Parliament House.

“The challenges that we’re facing in this post-COVID world, in many respects, are because of the challenges that come through our shipping fraternity,” Mr Elliott said.

He said the shipping industry has been more influenced by shocks and volatility, but that from a ministerial perspective, the future of shipping looks bright.

“Thanks to the pandemic, Australians have taken a much better appreciation of the shipping fraternity. [It] highlighted to the general public that without an efficient shipping fraternity, the economy grinds to a halt.”

Mr Elliott recalled the arrival of cruise ship Pacific Explorer in Sydney in April, which he described as an opportunity to draw attention back to the shipping industry as a whole.

He commended industry for the resilience it had shown during the pandemic and its progress despite adversity.

“We’ve created the first shore powered dry bulk shipping precinct, and the first shore powered cruise terminal in the Southern Hemisphere, which will be delivering 100% renewable energies.

“The shore power initiative is going to be removing up to 14,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere over the next 12 months. That’s equivalent to taking 4000 cars off the road.”

“It will make sure we are future fit to ensure the city’s ambitious infrastructure program and ensuring the economic output of our state economy continues.”

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Mr Elliott also highlighted maritime records broken over recent months, such as Port Botany setting a new benchmark for the deepest and heaviest ships ever to arrive in the port.

“We’ve seen the Le Havre as the heaviest containership ever to berth in Port Botany at 140,000 tonnes, while the MSC Tokyo set a new containership record at Port Botany and the nation at the deepest container ship at any berth in any Australian port.”

Mr Elliott said the prospect of port community systems and freight community systems are coming back into focus, which intend to help businesses exchange information through a common interface.

“The government is completing the strategic business case for a freight community system in December … and we expect it to be completed in August this year.”

“This world-leading capability will provide the trusted digital infrastructure backbone to existing hard infrastructure assets and incremental future investments to enable industry collaboration and optimisation of freight movements.”

Mr Elliott said he is planning to speak to as many port stakeholders as possible to draw on their insights and expertise to shape the future of the industry.

During a brief open floor discussion, Mr Elliott was asked whether government should interfere with private investment that would support the shipping industry.

Using Port of Newcastle as an example, a guest suggested the industry would “like to see some competitiveness in the port landscape”, which he said is “sadly lacking in Australia”.

“I’m not of a mind to change any existing policies when it comes to competition, but that doesn’t mean that competition won’t be enforced on industries in the future,” Mr Elliott said.

“At the moment, whenever government has to regulate or dominate an industry, it’s got to be in the best interest of the taxpayers and the consumers.

“The warning order to anybody that is enjoying protection from government is, don’t take it for granted.”

Mr Elliott said the suggestion that landside costs are being incurred is on the government’s radar.

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