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Domestic shipping is sinking fast

Domestic shipping is sinking fast

The Green Party is calling on the Government to take urgent action to save what's left of New Zealand's coastal shipping services.

The call follows Pacifica Shipping's announcement yesterday that it is withdrawing its second ship from coastal service this year, this time with the loss of up to 40 jobs.

The Greens, who work with the Government on transport issues, support the Shipping Federation's modified cabotage proposal, which allows overseas shipping companies the right to pick up international cargo but ensures that domestic cargo is carried by local ships.

"While the Government has yet to act on the Shipping Review, New Zealand's coasting shipping industry is sinking fast," said Green Employment Spokesperson, Sue Bradford.

Cabotage reserves domestic shipping routes for domestic shipping operators, and is practiced by our major trading partners: the United States, Japan, Australia and the European Union. The removal of cabotage by the National government in 1994 had acted, according to Ms Bradford, like "slow-acting euthanasia for our coastal shipping industry".

Pacifica Shipping complained of facing competitors that employed foreign workers at pay rates as low as $2 per hour. "It's not a level playing field," said Ms Bradford. "The field is more akin to playing on a cliff-face, with domestic shipping operators stuck firmly at the bottom."

Foreign operators also do not need to adhere to New Zealand labour laws and standards. "The blind pursuit of free trade in 1994 has resulted in unfair competition. New Zealand shippers and their staff cannot adopt, or compete with, third world working conditions.

"Coastal shipping is an energy and cost-efficient means of transporting goods, and steps need to be taken to ensure that it remains an option in the future," said Ms Bradford. "Otherwise, New Zealand farmers and manufacturers will be held to ransom by international shipping companies."


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