Prime Minister Announces Enquiry into the Efficiency of our Maritime Logistics Industry

In a presentation on 30th November 2021 to the Australian Industry Group (AIG), the Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the Treasurer will soon announce the full details of a Productivity Commission (PC) review to examine challenges in Australia’s maritime logistics system, noting these relate to ‘competition, industrial relations, infrastructure constraints and technology uptake’. The Prime Minister indicated that we will know the review’s findings by the mid-2022.

From the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison:

“For governments, businesses, families, individuals, COVID has unleashed an era of radical uncertainty and disruption of a scale rarely seen outside of wartime.

The pandemic has cost us more than 5.2 million lives worldwide.

That’s a very conservative figure, by the way. Some estimates approach three times that number.

It has resulted in the deepest economic recession in nearly a century, with economies on strikingly different paths to recovery.

And this morning, I just want to focus on a couple of areas, a couple of areas where Australia must continue to learn, adapt and improve – our supply chains and our skills and training system.

As you know, the Government’s agenda spreads well beyond all of those issues, of course. But these are important, very important parts of our plan, our economic plan, to secure that economic recovery, which you all know cannot be taken for granted.

This recovery cannot be locked unless we can have confidence in the economic management that is going to see us have the right balance and the right balance and policies to ensure that that economic recovery can be secured.

There’s a lot at stake.

In many ways, what I wish to talk to you about today, are the micro-foundations of our economy – providing the hardware and the software that allows the economy to remain flexible and innovative amidst the challenges that we have before us, to secure them and those opportunities.

Supply chains, we know, are under increased pressure around the world due to international COVID-related factors. It was a key focus of our discussions at the G20.

Global container shipping costs, congestion and supplier delivery times all remain around historically high levels.

Global shipping prices are up around six-fold since the beginning of the crisis.

Australian shipping prices have likewise risen sharply, you know this.

And congestion and delays are having flow on effects for domestic supply chains and consumers.

Now, that said, supply chains in Australia have proved generally resilient throughout the pandemic, despite COVID measures, isolated cases at Australian ports and industrial action and other localised disruptions.

And encouragingly, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) both expect the inflationary effects of these supply chain pressures to moderate in 2022, as consumer demand for goods rebalances and industry responds by bringing on more supply.

The Government’s Office of Supply Chain Resilience, that I established, is monitoring supply chain vulnerabilities right across our economy and coordinating whole-of-government responses to ensure access to essential goods.

Economic ministers, together with myself, continue to be briefed regularly on supply chain pressures, and the National Coordination Mechanism – so critical, so critical for business during the course of this pandemic – is meeting weekly with industry players in the run-up to Christmas.

We have learnt through the pandemic just how much better we can get that integration between how our Government integrates with businesses on these most practical of issues.

The key focus is on the flow of goods from overseas suppliers to Australian businesses and consumers.

And our Government is also keeping a close watch on the potential for industrial action to disrupt economic activity, noting that industrial action at Patrick Terminals is on hold until at least the 10th of December.

Now, we encourage the parties to this dispute to negotiate in good faith and to resolve their issues to get this sorted.

But at the same time, I want to assure you that our Government will take action, if needed, to protect the Australian economy from serious harm.

In light of the recent ACCC Container Monitoring Report, the Government is also examining broader issues associated with the relative productivity of Australian ports.

Ports are the gateway for our economy. Inefficient ports are a tax on all of us.

Now, it’s clear, however, that productivity challenges remain in Australia’s maritime logistics system. These relate to competition, industrial relations, infrastructure constraints and technology uptake.

Now, shortly the Treasurer will be releasing the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission enquiry into the efficiency of our maritime logistics system. This is not an enquiry that I see going on for a long time. I want to see this back here by the middle of the year.”

Read the Prime Minister’s full transcript here.

Images sourced from unsplash.com