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Source: Maritime Union of New Zealand

The Maritime Union welcomes the Government’s transport policy, which was released today, as an opportunity to restore New Zealand’s coastal shipping industry and repeal section 198 of the Maritime Transport Act, says Maritime Union National Secretary Joe Fleetwood.

“The Maritime Union has a five-point plan to rebuild New Zealand’s shipping industry. The Government’s policy provides a great opportunity for the industry to grow and to carry more freight and gain the benefits available through trade and economic security. 

“This is a good start and now a law change is required to restore hundreds of jobs.

“The Covid-19 Pandemic has shown how vulnerable we are as a country with foreign owned and operated coastal ships carrying New Zealand cargo. 

“If we don’t repeal Section 198 of the Act the deregulation impacts will continue to place our country at risk. 

“The deregulation that destroyed New Zealand’s coastal shipping industry needs to be dealt with now.

“In 1996 there were 34 New Zealand owned and operated ships carrying goods between New Zealand ports. Today there’s just a handful. 

“We’re an island nation that depends on trade, but previous governments have stood by while our shipping industry has been smashed.

“MUNZ supports the Government’s plan to invest in coastal shipping to embed mode neutrality and choice for freight transporters, to allow New Zealand flagged coastal shipping to operate on a level playing field with the big international ship owners. 

“Since the industry was deregulated in the 1990s, coastal shipping has been the neglected arm of New Zealand’s transport network. Even in this plan, coastal shipping, which carries 13% of domestic freight, gets less than 0.1% of transport funding. 

“The need for a strong domestic coastal shipping fleet has only been strengthened by the COVID crisis, which has shown we can’t rely on big international lines to service our regional ports.

“Restoring protection for our coastal shipping will allow the industry to grow, give it the capacity to carry more freight, and protect our ability to trade during times of crisis,” says Joe Fleetwood. 

The five-point plan to rebuild our shipping industry

  1. Discourage unfair competition by taking back the New Zealand shipping industry from foreign operators in our coastal trade. 
  2. Allow a fast-track depreciation allowance and dispensation from GST on the purchase of new ships, to encourage local shipowners to rebuild our coastal fleet. 
  3. Encourage port companies to eliminate unnecessary competition between themselves, to develop an efficient, integrated national transportation system. 
  4. Include shipping services in the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement with Australia, incorporating the rights of New Zealand and Australia to ransport coastal cargoes in their own reselles. 
  5. Reinstate New Zealand flagged coastal shipping by removing all references to foreign ships being able to carry goods along the New Zealand coast from section 198 of the Maritime Transport Act.