MARITIME Industry Australia kicked off its Blueprint for a Maritime Nation conference in Brisbane on Tuesday (14 May).

The event officially opened with a welcome reception on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning the conference program was in full swing.

The day-one National Maritime Capability and Resilience Conference (the first part of the two-day gathering) opened with an address from federal minister for infrastructure and transport Catherine King.

Ms King offered delegates a taste of what could be expected in the then-forthcoming 2024-25 Federal Budget, which would be handed down that night. She forecasted “good news” for Australia’s national resilience and sovereign maritime capability.

“More than perhaps any budget in recent history this one will include good news and major reform in our maritime sector,” Ms King said.

Bridget McKenzie, federal shadow minister for infrastructure and transport, said industry could expect bipartisan support for enhanced maritime capability and supply-chain security.

“My ongoing commitment to you is to support, where possible, a bipartisan maritime agenda that addresses the immediate challenges but also sets the sails for a sustainable and competitive future for our maritime industry,” she said.

And Queensland minister for state development and infrastructure Grace Grace said the state government had been working with the maritime sector to reduce emissions and develop hydrogen battery and biofuel capabilities.

“The Miles Queensland Government is working hard to position Queensland to not only benefit from a decarbonised future but to lead the way,” she said.

Sessions throughout the day focused on human capital, the blue economy and policy and business environments.

Panels comprising representatives from industry, government and academia discussed topics such as development of a skilled workforce, offshore wind and the energy transition.

MIAL CEO Angela Gillham said Australia, as a maritime nation, is heavily reliant on shipping for supply-chain security.

“We have a diversity of existing and emerging offshore industries and natural resources and talent to be an early adopter and global leader in new energy technologies,” she said.

“If we are to realise our potential as a maritime nation, it is vital that there is collaboration across the maritime sectors and meaningful engagement by government on positive policy setting.”

Ms Gillham said this is “a pivotal time” for Australian shipping.

“After decades of decline, our industry is on the cusp of a revolution that will bring huge benefits to Australia in terms of national security, supply chain resilience, reduced emissions, and a range of exciting career opportunities for Australian skilled workers,” she said.

The second day of Blueprint for a Maritime Nation features MIAL’s fourth Maritime Decarbonisation Summit.

The summit aims to provide a deep dive into the policy setting required to decarbonise maritime and advance Australia’s role in manufacturing and exporting green molecules that will help decarbonise hard-to-abate industries around the world.