Australian opposition promises strategic naval fleet

PHOTO CREDIT: Offshore Energy

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has presented a plan to build an independent strategic fleet of ships under the Australian flag and crew.

The aim, according to the ALP, is to restore Australia’s domestic shipping sector and ensure national trade and shipping capacity in times of crisis or national disaster.

In addition, “continuous access to fuel supplies and other vital imports” is to be secured.

Australia is more dependent on maritime trade than most nations. Shipping accounts for 99 percent of Australia’s imports and exports of goods, including fuel.

“Even so, for eight long years the Morrison-Joyce administration has jeopardized our national security and economic sovereignty by standing idle while large multinational corporations dump Australian flagged and crewed ships so they could hire cheaper overseas crews,” reads a statement from Anthony Albanese, leader of the ALP.

“Right now, less than one percent of Australia’s maritime trade is handled by Australian ships, forcing our nation to respond to overseas governments and corporations for our important imports.”

“As a first step, a new Albanian Labor government will appoint a task force to guide them in setting up the fleet as soon as possible. Although these ships are likely privately owned and operated commercially, we will ensure that they are available to the armed forces in times of national crisis, be it natural disasters or conflict, ”explained the ALP leader.

He said the task force will consist of representatives from the shipping industry, major charterers, labor unions, Australian business and the Department of Defense. The ALP also intends to fill loopholes in the existing regulatory framework to help rebuild Australian shipping.

In a separate statement, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said the coalition government under successive Liberal Prime Ministers has abandoned the nation by allowing domestic maritime shipping capabilities to be undermined to the point where Australian supply chains are completely considered Decision-making is held hostage by international shipping cartels and the political leaders of other countries rather than the Australian government.

MUA went on to say it has always believed that an important element of Australia’s national security is a sovereign navigational capability, which becomes even more important as the international security situation in the region becomes more uncertain and Australian fuel reserves shrink to less than 70 days of capacity. The lack of fuel security has been described by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute as the “Achilles’ heel of national security”.

“Australia once had a thriving national shipping industry and the MUA supports Anthony Albanese’s plan to rebuild an Australian fleet with Australian crew,” said MUA.

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