Strategic Fleet Task Force Launched – Daily Cargo News

THE FEDERAL government today (October 20) appointed a new task force to guide the establishment of a Strategic Maritime Fleet.

The proposed strategic fleet will consist of Australian-flagged and crewed vessels. The government says the purpose of the fleet is to enhance Australia’s economic sovereignty and national security.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese proposed the creation of a strategic fleet in January this year. The concept sparked heated debate in the shipping industry at the time of the 2022 federal election.

The discussion continued for much of 2022, but was reignited by the Productivity Commission’s draft report on Australia’s maritime logistics system, released in September this year.

The Productivity Commission is concerned about domestic sealift capacity and training could be better addressed by means other than a strategic fleet, a view rejected by some industry representatives but supported by others .

The newly appointed Strategic Fleet Task Force will guide the Government on how to establish the Australian Fleet as quickly as possible and provide advice on any legislative or regulatory reforms needed to support Australia’s Strategic Fleet and shipping.

John Mullen will chair the working group. He will bring experience in international transport and logistics and over two decades in senior management positions with major transport and infrastructure companies.

Mr. Mullen spent more than five years as Managing Director and CEO of Asciano between 2011 and the company’s dissolution in 2016. Previously, he held senior roles at DHL and TNT Express Worldwide. He has served on the boards of Brambles, Toll Group and Telstra.

Angela Gillham, CEO of Maritime Industry Australia and maritime policy specialist, will also bring her expertise to the task force, along with National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Paddy Crumlin, and Sarah Ryan of Woodside Energy.

Ms. Ryan worked at oil services giant Schlumberger between 1990 and 2005, then held positions on numerous boards of energy and logistics companies, including Viva Energy, Aurizon, Oz Minerals and Woodside.

Major General Jason Walk of the Department of Defense, a senior military officer with extensive command, leadership and management experience, will also be part of the task force.

Catherine King, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, said the government is moving quickly to get the strategic fleet in place.

“Establishing a strategic fleet of Australian-flagged and crewed vessels was a key commitment of our government during the election,” she said.

“Australia relies on maritime transport to support its economic and social well-being, with an incredible 99% of the volume of our trade in goods transported by sea.

“It is essential that we ensure that Australia continues to have a strong supply chain so that we have food, fuel, medical supplies and other essential goods to support Australian industries, the community and protect our national interest.

“I look forward to working with the task force as they advise us on how best to achieve this.”

And Ms. Gillham from MIAL said RCD the working group will provide a solid base of expertise for setting up the fleet.

“[MIAL’s] the implication is to provide the shipping industry’s perspective on the working group’s discussions,” said Ms. Gillham.

“The task force is… drawing on expertise in the cargo space, so Dr. Sarah Ryan has a lot of experience in the oil and gas industry, and MUA’s Paddy Crumlin will be providing that handy input. and we will provide input around running a shipping business and what our members need to compete with foreign interests.

“I think the logistics aspect of defense will also be very important in fueling this supply chain security. [and] national disaster relief, all those things that have become so evident of Australia’s vulnerabilities over the past five years.

“It’s really nice to see that element being part of the discussion as well.”

In an official statement from MIAL, Ms Gillham said the Strategic Fleet would also provide jobs for in-demand maritime skills and boost the country’s economy.

“Our recent maritime skills census revealed that the Australian maritime sector has a projected shortage of 560 seafarers by 2023, many of them in the deck officer and marine engineering skill sets,” she said. declared.

“For the Albanian government to meet its electoral commitment to Australian-flagged and Australian-manned ships, regulatory reforms are needed now to provide better training opportunities for seafarers to acquire the skills they need. need to equip the strategic fleet.

“I look forward to working with Minister King and my task force colleagues to find a solution to this issue, which is critical to the success of the Strategic Fleet and ensuring our supply chain and civilian maritime security. .”

But Shipping Australia has warned against developing a national fleet, arguing that many of the proposed policy objectives for developing a national fleet can be achieved more cheaply by other methods or do not stack.

“Labour qualification can be addressed through education, training, cadets on world trade ships and immigration,” a SAL spokesperson said. DCN.

“The depth of diversity in terms of cargoes, vessel types, owners and operators, crews and routes (among others) is what provides resilience to external shocks.

“The energy security arguments are not building up as we enter a transition in energy sources and it is extremely likely that Australia’s future energy needs will be met by electrification, domestic renewables and locally produced fuels such as liquid ammonia and hydrogen.

The SAL spokesman said the job creation arguments are refuted by history, as nationalist shipping policies have resulted in the sacking of Australian seafarers and the closure of Australian manufacturing plants, everyone losing his job.

“The economic arguments don’t stack up either, as analysis shows that national maritime policies tend to cause more economic harm than benefit,” the spokesperson said.

“The safety arguments are not supported by evidence, as international shipping can and has delivered the goods despite floods, fires, strikes, epidemics, terrorism and war.”

The Fleet Strategy Working Group will meet later this month to kick off the work.

It plans to provide its advice to the government in two phases, with the first phase expected to report on high-level strategic objectives by the end of the year.

During this phase, shipping, maritime and other stakeholders will be able to submit proposals to shape the vision of a strategic fleet through an open public consultation process.

This will be followed by a second phase to identify ship options and other requirements for a strategic fleet of up to 12 ships, which is expected to be completed by June 2023.

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