Australian shipping reforms 'threaten country's economy'
Plans to restrict access to Australia's ports to foreign vessels could backfire, and jeopardise the country's economy.
That claim is being made by fuel industry chiefs. Their umbrella body, the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP), whose members represent companies supplying 90 per cent of the nation's petrol, says the plans could put the security of Australia's fuel supply lines at risk.
Annabel Hepworth, business correspondent for The Australian newspaper, pointed out that many local refineries are already facing massive pressure due to a combination of the current strength of the Australian dollar, high operating costs, and the increase in the number of 'mega-refineries' being developed in Asia.
Already, oil company Shell is converting an oil refinery near Sydney into a terminal to handle imports of goods and commodities, Hepworth's article noted.
The AIP claims that the bill introducing the plans to restrict port access "will dramatically increase the risk of supply disruptions", as fuel companies often depended on chartered vessels often registered in other countries – which will, of course, not enjoy the same rights of access to ports if the government gets its way.
The bill plans to replace the current ship licensing system with one which will only let foreign vessels use Australian ports for 12 months at a time, and see their shipping movements subjected to new conditions.
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