CLIA pushes for urgent consultation over key maritime exemption

The Coastal Trading Act 2012 exemption has been extended for just one year, raising alarm in some corners of the cruise industry.

CRUISE Lines International Association (CLIA) is urging further consultation with the Australian Government to provide longer-term certainty to the industry, after Minister for Transport Catherine King elected to extend the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 exemption for just one year.

The exemption, which applies from 01 January 2024 to 31 December 2024, replaces the current exemption, which ends on 31 December 2023, and means eligible cruise lines do not need a licence for coastal trading, such as carrying cruise passengers to and from Australian ports.

CLIA said while the latest extension is important, longer-term certainty is needed for cruise lines, as they typically plan and schedule deployments several years in advance.

“[The Association] and cruise lines look forward to further urgent consultation with the Australian Government to provide longer-term certainty for cruising and to support the THRIVE 2030 national strategy for the sustainable growth of the visitor economy,” the CLIA statement said.

“The exemption is an important regulatory provision in Australia, and supports cruise operations worth more than $5.6 billion a year to communities around the coast.”

King, in a statement on the exemption, committed to consulting with the maritime industry on “a range of potential amendments” which would aid the revitalisation of the sector.

“COVID-19 really affected tourism and the cruise industry, so the Australian Government is continuing to support cruise tourism by guaranteeing another year of the exemption,” she said.

“The exemption reduces red tape and costs while supporting THRIVE 2030, our national strategy for the long-term sustainable growth of the visitor economy.”

The exemption applies to vessels in excess of 5,000 gross tonnes which are capable of a speed of at least 15 knots, and are capable of carrying at least 100 passengers.

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