Shipping law fears could help trucking


Australian trucking and rail transport operators could be beneficiaries of diverted coastal trade if shipping line concern about new maritime trade laws deepens. <br /><br /> Vehicle transporter Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) appears to be the first to put its misgivings into intended action, telling the market that, at present, it intends to halt carriage of local cargo from July 1.

By Rob McKay | May 31, 2012

Australian trucking and rail transport operators could be beneficiaries of diverted coastal trade if shipping line concern about new maritime trade laws deepens.

The legislation aims to tighten regulations relating to foreign-flagged ships transporting domestic cargoes between domestic ports.

Vehicle transporter Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) appears to be the first to put its misgivings into intended action, telling the market that, at present, it intends to halt carriage of local cargo from July 1.

"The new legislation Coastal Trading Bill 2012 shows that there will be substantial changes to the way foreign carriers apply for and be granted permission to carry coastal cargo around Australia," WWL says.

"Based on these proposed changes and new requirements, it may become very difficult for WWL to continue participating in the coastal trade."

WWL does hold out the possibility of a resumption but curtailment of its local vehicle transport trade appears assured, in the short term at least.

"The new legislation is scheduled to be in place effective 1st July 2012," the company says.

"However we do not expect the final recommendations from the Senate Committee to be completed until the 19th June 2012.

"This will only give 11 days’ notice before the planned legislation enactment.

"There are also other aspects of the legislation that are still not known.

"For example the industry is still awaiting cost indications from the Federal Government on the new license arrangements.

"Therefore it’s not possible for WWL to assess the overall impact of the proposed legislation at such time in order to make a final decision."

"We do anticipate a period of transition after this date."

The local arm of the world’s biggest container carrier, Maersk, was watching developments closely.

"Maersk Line expect that the coastal part of our service will remain 'business as usual' until October for our coastal customers who obtain Single Voyage permits to cover them through the transition period," Maersk Australia Managing Director Nicolaj Noes says.

"We hope that by October there will be further clarity on our ability to apply for Temporary Licences moving forward in the potential absence of a launch of a dedicated Australian service."

Llew Russell, Chief Executive of international shipowner representative body Shipping Australia Ltd, was unable to confirm if other shipping lines were considering halting their services.

"What I can say is that the Opposition is moving some amendments in the Lower House, which may make it easier for WWL," Russell says.

"We are most concerned."

He believes most international lines were holding a watching brief to see how the new legislation pans out.

"Let’s hope pragmatism prevails and that we will be able to continue to service the Australian coastal trade where it is not viable for an Australian flagged ship to do so," he says.

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