WASHINGTON: Loosening shipping regulations at berths such as the Port of Townsville could rejuvenate regional economies, according to Ports Australia. The industry group made submissions on Monday to a parliamentary inquiry examining the Government’s role in developing Australian cities.
Ports Australia chief executive Mike Gallacher said the ability of international ships to move easily between Australian ports would result in increased economic activity and jobs, which would rebuild regional and rural centres. Port of Townsville trade development executive Maria James said most freight came to Townsville through the road network, a costly and inefficient system. Freight that does come via sea is mostly chartered bulk shipments of cement and fertiliser. If the system was changed to encourage more international shipping, products such as consumer goods could be shipped to the city. Ms James said international shipping companies paid Australian wages when docked in the nation’s ports, which meant many decided to avoid stopping in Townsville. She said opening ports to more shipping would lower the price of goods and spur competition. Ms James said any changes to the system would need to be balanced by making sure it was done sustainably and not to the detriment of the Australian maritime industry. Mr Gallacher said a change in Australia’s shipping policy would result in significantly more port calls in regional centres, bringing more jobs and business opportunities. The Bulletin contacted the Maritime Union of Australia for comment regarding the proposed changes but did not receive a response.