Media release: Shorten killed Aussie shipping, not BHP

18 January 2019

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has criticised Bill Shorten for blaming BHP for the decline of Australian shipping.

In Brisbane on Thursday Bill Shorten said: “People feel the economy is heading in the wrong direction because it’s not working in the interests of everyone… Speak to a seafarer who’s just lost a job because BHP’s sending the ship overseas and foreign flagging it.”

This was a reference to BHP decision to no longer contract with two Australian-crewed vessels to ship iron ore from Port Hedland to BlueScope’s Steelworks in Port Kembla.

“Labor is to blame for the uncompetitiveness of Australian shipping,” said Senator Leyonhjelm.
“Labor made Australian shipping more costly through the Fair Work Act 2009.

“Labor then set up an Australian International Shipping Register in 2012 that was supposed to loosen the regulatory and tax noose on Australian shipping. This was an abysmal failure as no one joined because of a requirement to first establish a union collective agreement.

“Labor then blocked the Coalition’s attempt in 2015 to remove the requirement for a union collective agreement. (Labor voted with the Greens and Palmer United against the Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 on 26 November 2015.)”

“If BHP and Bluescope were prevented by Labor from having foreign owned and crewed ships transport iron ore from Western Australia to New South Wales, it would soon be uneconomic to do this trip. This would jeopardise Australia’s precarious steelmaking in Port Kembla.

“Reducing demand for Australian iron ore and reducing the supply of iron ore to Australia’s dwindling steelmakers is just plain dumb.”

Media: Kate Fantinel 0401 620 227

Kate.Fantinel@aph.gov.au