The Federal Government is pushing to restrict Australia’s freedom of trade with foreign ports, with some freight companies and the industry’s leading political figure questioning its wisdom.
Key points:Freight companies fear the Government will force them to accept tariffs of up to 20 per cent on goods exported to overseas portsThe Opposition says the Government is acting on its own and will be seen as anti-competitive if it does not”We’ve been saying for years that Australia has been a global trade leader and we’re still going to be, but we don’t have to import everything from overseas,” Freight Council president Richard Murnane said on Friday.
“It’s not fair to Australians that our products are going to China and we are going not to be able to do business with them because of tariffs.”
What is the point of having tariffs if we can’t compete with them?”
“There is no economic benefit for the Government to go ahead and try to take away the right of Australia to do what we do and import what we want.”
Freight firms fear the Coalition is acting as a “global monopoly” on the supply of products, which they say has allowed foreign companies to drive down prices on products in Australia.
Key Points:Freighter companies say the Government’s move would cause them to be forced to import products from overseas”What we’re seeing in the market is that the Government has imposed tariffs that will mean that we’re forced to make a very significant investment to move our business from our home market,” Mr Murnanesaid.
Mr Murnaney said the Government would be seen to be anti-Australian and would be “unfair” if it did not comply with international agreements.
He said that if the Government did not act to enforce trade agreements it would be the “last gasp” of a dying industry, but warned the Government had a choice.
“The Government has made its position clear that if we’re going to continue to trade with the world and export goods to other countries, we’re not going to allow foreign companies access to our markets,” he said.”
If we do not enforce the rules of the world we will be looking at a very difficult situation.
“Mr Marnane also questioned whether the Government was acting on the Government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call to “unleash the American dream” by building a “new” rail link between Sydney and Melbourne, which is estimated to cost about $3.5 billion.”
I think the Government, for all its talk about making the rail network more efficient, it’s very difficult to see that actually going through a freight terminal at all, particularly for goods from Australia to other parts of the Western world,” Mr Pritchard said.
The Opposition has called on the Prime Minister to put the project on hold until the Government can be sure it can comply with agreements made with countries including China and Japan.”
We know there’s no appetite for that, particularly in the wake of the Chinese earthquake,” Mr Turnbull said last week.
Mr Turnbull has been under pressure from the business community to build a rail link, given the risks associated with the project.
The Prime Minister is also facing questions over the decision to give Mr Turnbull a “clean bill of health” when he stepped down earlier this year amid controversy over his decision to leave the cabinet.
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