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Australian Senate throws Burnie development into doubt
The proposed site of the container terminal

Australian Senate throws Burnie development into doubt

The Australian Senate’s rejection of shipping reform has thrown DP World’s plan for a 200,000 teu capacity container terminal into doubt.

The terminal operator said on November 8, 2015, that its US$20m development plan was conditional on the Coastal Shipping Act 2015 being approved by parliament.

After the proposal  was defeated by 31 votes to 28 in the Senate, DP World Australia’s chief corporate development officer Brian Gillespie said: “Design engineering work on Burnie will continue but the US$30m order for cranes and equipment is on hold while we review the situation.”

DP World had planned to provide a new ship-to-shore crane, refurbish a mothballed one and provide yard container handling equipment.

The bill aims to simplify the licensing of domestic shipping, allowing international container vessels to carry domestic containerised freight, as well as relaxing rules on wages and working conditions.

The government argued that the bill would make shipping cheaper for importers and exporters, creating jobs, whereas the opposition maintained that it would allow cheap, foreign labour to undercut Australian shipping industry workers.

In a statement, the Maritime Union of Australia, said common sense had prevailed and Labour’s transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said: “The government simply got it wrong. This was ideology gone mad.”

Tasmanian senator, Richard Colbeck, of the governing Liberal Party, replied: “Why should Bell Bay Aluminium pay something like AU$29 a tonne for moving its freight from Bell Bay to Gladstone when the global going rate is about AU$17 or AU$18 a tonne?”

Gillespie backed up the government: “We are disappointed and a bit surprised by the votes against the proposed legislation from some Tasmanian Senators. Unfortunately, this will slow down our immediate plans for Burnie,” he said.

“We still believe that there is a strong economic and environmental case for improving sea freight from Tasmania to Australian and international port,” he continued, “how else are we going to make Tasmanian exports price competitive and, at the same time, take 150,000 long distance truck journeys off the roads in mainland Australia?”