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Australia makes key appointment for domestic fleet growth plan

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The CEO of Australian shipping industry body Maritime Industry Australia Limited (MIIAL), Angela Gillham, has been appointed to the Strategic Fleet Taskforce.

The taskforce will advise the Australian government on achieving its ambitions in the maritime sector, as laid out in their election commitments. The Labor Party’s plans focus on strengthening the nation’s Strategic Fleet with Australian-flagged and -crewed vessels to protect the island nation’s economic sovereignty and national security in times of crisis.

The government envisions the fleet to be privately owned and operated, but available for requisition during emergencies like natural disasters and conflict.

“The Fleet is likely to include up to a dozen vessels including tankers, cargo, container and roll-on-roll-off vessels,” the plan stated.

“MIAL has consistently said the Strategic Fleet provides a trifecta of benefits — security of key supply chains, jobs for highly sought-after maritime skills and economic stimulus to the nation,” said Gilham.

The MIAL have lobbied for almost a decade to establish the Strategic Fleet. The process will need to begin with regulatory reform to improve training provision and opportunities for seafarers.

“The nation turns to the maritime industry during times of crisis, like natural disasters including the 2019/20 bushfires and conflicts, to help with evacuations, offer refuge and deliver lifesaving medicines.

“Our recent Seafaring Skills Census found the Australian maritime sector has a projected shortage of 560 seafarers by 2023, a large proportion of which is in the Deck and Marine Engineer Officer skill sets," said Gillham.

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