Does Australia need a merchant shipping fleet?

Image courtesy of Gary Houston on Wikimedia Commons.

By Sam Bateman*

If elected to government, the Labor Party says it will enhance Australia’s economic sovereignty and national security by creating a strategic merchant shipping fleet. As a first step, it will appoint a taskforce to guide the establishment of the ‘strategic fleet’, which is likely to comprise up to a dozen vessels including oil tankers, container ships and gas carriers. The Australian-flagged and -crewed vessels will be privately owned and operate on a commercial basis, but could be requisitioned by government in times of need.

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