Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs: Australian Coastal Shipping: The Vital Link

Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs No. 3
Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs No. 3

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Mary Ganter


The coastal shipping industry encompasses those involved in the transport of sea freight between Australian ports. Because Australia is a continent with a small population that tends to be concentrated in urban clusters around the coastal fringes, this creates unique problems when considering sea transport needs.

Over the last 20 years Australia’s total freight transport task has more than doubled. However, coastal shipping activity has declined markedly due to increasing government intervention in the industry, worsening industrial relations and the rapid substitution of land-based transport for coastal shipping services.

Coastal shipping will remain an integral part of the domestic transport network due to the type of cargo carried, the fundamental importance of the cargo to the economy, and the continuing inability of road and rail to effectively service the transport area currently covered by the coastal shipping industry. Therefore, as in the past, the potential demands on the ADF’s maritime capabilities, particularly in times of threat, for the protection of coastal shipping and port facilities will endure as a significant feature of Australia’s maritime strategic environment.