04September 2015
by Fleur Anderson

Shipping plan to 'jeopardise' $100m investment

Another shipping executive has criticised the federal government's proposed coastal shipping laws, saying the plan to dump industry tax breaks jeopardises a $100 million investment in two cargo ships.

SeaRoad Holdings managing director Michael Easy said his company was in danger of losing its bank finance for two cargo ships, the first of which was to begin operating at the end of 2016, because the Abbott government now planned to dump the tax incentives and training subsidies introduced in 2013 by Labor.

The Coalition has promised a major restructure of coastal trading regulations to make the industry more competitive and Mr Easy said while some of the changes were positive, others put his company's funding arrangements at risk.

"Central to these negotiations was the positive understanding that the government was actively promoting a reinvigoration of Australia's maritime industry by encouraging direct investment," Mr Easy said in a submission to a Senate inquiry.

"The proposed legislation will jeopardise this position and is likely to severely impact our current ship replacement plans."

Shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese said it made economic, environmental and security sense to maintain a viable domestic shipping industry.

On Thursday, a Broome-based cruise ship operator offered to testify under oath that senior federal bureaucrats suggested the company sack its Australian staff and register its vessel overseas to save money.

North Star Cruises representative Bill Milby, who will appear at the Senate inquiry in Canberra on Monday, said he took "great offence" at Prime Minister Tony Abbott's suggestion that he had fabricated claims public servants told him to move his business offshore to remain competitive.