Shipping Federation proposes alternative
The New Zealand Shipping Federation today stepped into the row between Unions and the Employers and Manufacturers Association over reinstatement of the international-standard cabotage regime, proposing a new compromise alternative.
The Federation's Manager, Paul Nicholas, said New Zealand ship owners had agreed to back a new policy which allowed locally owned or chartered ships to move freely between any port they chose, with foreign-owned and managed ships allowed to carry any export and import cargo around New Zealand.
"If the current policy doesn't change, we won't see a local shipping industry at all within the next decade," said Mr Nicholas.
"All we need is to re-balance the playing field again.
"The situation is ridiculous - local shipping companies need to apply to the Minister to travel between ports in their own country - and foreign companies can contest the application!
"Importers and exporters may have saved a few dollars by allowing foreign ships to dump capacity on the market, but it has been at the cost of turning local shipping into a sunset industry," he said.
"Foreign shippers are not only protected in their home countries, they enjoy considerable advantages over domestic ships here in New Zealand because they avoid a multitude of taxes and increasing compliance costs.
"Local shipping needs free access around its own country, and preference in carrying domestic freight."
Mr Nicholas said Federation analysis showed that freight rates would not significantly increase, but would return to a rate which covered the true cost of offering scheduled and specialised local shipping services.
He said the rumoured access of coastal shipping projects to roading funds would make little difference if a solution like the Federation's new alternative was not adopted.
"We'll use the funds to purchase a graveyard for the New Zealand shipping industry," he said.
The New Zealand Shipping Federation is an association of New Zealand's domestic shipping companies.