Today is Merchant Navy Day.
Today we remember the more than 800 Australian merchant mariners who died serving Australia in the World Wars, as well as all those who have worked and still do work to transport vital goods and supplies to our nation.
For an island nation like Australia, our merchant mariners are critical. Australia relies on shipping to move 99 per cent of our imports and exports, including fuel.
In past times of crisis, Australia has always been able to call on Australian-flagged and Australian-crewed ships to answer the call.
Despite this, Australia is now in a situation where less than half a per cent of our seaborne trade is carried by Australian ships, and that percentage is rapidly heading towards zero.
In just 30 years the number of Australian-flagged vessels has shrunk from 100 to barely over ten.
This means we must rely on foreign flagged and crewed ships to import our vital supplies of fuels and other essentials.
By comparison, Norway has 519 vessels carrying the Norwegian flag, the United Kingdom has 1157 flagged vessels and China has 4608 flagged vessels.
Expanding Australia’s maritime sector is vital to our economic sovereignty and national security.
On Merchant Navy Day, we should all remember the sacrifices our merchant mariners have made for our country in the past, and commit to securing a stronger future for Australian shipping.
THURSDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 2020