A MARITIME Jobs Taskforce, aimed at reinvigorating shipping along the Queensland coast, has held its first meeting.

Transport minister Mark Bailey established the Maritime Jobs Taskforce to work with industry and maritime unions to remove barriers and identify practical ideas to grow the industry.

“A parliamentary committee that looked at intrastate shipping in Queensland last year found a decline in training, employment and competition,” Mr Bailey said.

“The global economy has been hit hard by COVID-19, but Queensland’s strong health response means we can now focus on jobs and supporting our economic recovery.

“Freight moves to every corner of Queensland on its highways and rail lines but our coastline, the great blue highway, is under-used.”

Mr Bailey said about 2600 maritime workers, or 22% of all maritime workers in Australia, were employed in Queensland.

“This includes transport professionals, marine pilots and transfer crews, deckhands, transport and despatch clerks, supply and distribution managers and accountants,” he said.

“By finding ways to encourage growth in intrastate shipping, we can explore opportunities for job creation, especially in the area of vessel crewing and training and increasing the use of local crews in Queensland.

Mr Bailey said former Maritime Safety Queensland general manager, Patrick Quirk had been appointed to chair the Maritime Jobs Taskforce.

“Mr Quirk has considerable experience in the shipping sector which will be invaluable in leading this initiative,” he said.

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“The taskforce’s priority will be to explore how we can create more maritime jobs by identifying practical measures to grow the intrastate coastal shipping industry.”

Mr Quirk is to be assisted by two industry representatives who will work in an honorary capacity, Captain Chris Peters, chief executive of Pacific Tug Group and Jason Miners from the Maritime Union.

Mr Bailey said the taskforce would discuss the issues with industry and present its findings in a final report to the Minister by 28 September.

As well as shipping, the taskforce is to examine job opportunities in tourism, fishing and resources, as well as general maritime operations.

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