Published: 4 Jan 2022



The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) welcomes Labor’s plan to establish a Strategic Fleet of Australian flagged and crewed vessels to restore Australia’s domestic shipping sector and guarantee our national trading and shipping capacity in times of crisis or national disaster.

As an island nation, Australia has always depended on coastal and international shipping, but under successive Liberal Prime Ministers the Coalition Government has failed the nation by allowing our domestic maritime capability to be eroded to the point where our supply-chains are held totally hostage to decision-making by international shipping cartels and other countries’ political leaders rather than the Australian Government.

The MUA has always believed that a vital element in Australia’s national security is a sovereign shipping capability, which is becoming even more important as the international security situation in our region becomes less certain and our fuel reserves dwindle to less than 70 days’ capacity. Our lack of fuel security has been described as a “national security Achilles’ heel” by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Australia once had a vibrant national shipping industry and the MUA supports Anthony Albanese’s plan to rebuild an Australian owned, Australian crewed fleet. Cabotage, a legislative instrument to restrict the operation of coastal trading to locally registered or operated ships, is a feature of most maritime countries worldwide, particularly where the national interest relies heavily on shipping, such as China, the United States, Canada, the Philippines and Japan.

A lack of Australian flagged and crewed ships, particularly on short sea domestic shipping lanes, has undermined any hope of a dynamic, resilient national supply chain and robbed us of any strategic advantage against the manipulative conduct of international shipping cartels that hold our imports and exports hostage. This has been thrown into stark focus by the massive disruptions to our national supply chains during the COVID-19 crisis.

The following quotes can be attributed to Paddy Crumlin, MUA National Secretary:

“It is a disgrace that the Morrison-Joyce Coalition along with Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott have allowed our shipping industry to be taken over by foreign-flagged and foreign-owned vessels with dubious safety standard, exploitative labour practices and little or no regulation.”

“The pandemic has revealed the difficult situation Australia faces maintaining supply chains and the timely delivery of essential goods and it’s time to put an end to the stupidity of international shipping cartels instead of our own strategic shipping fleet.”



“Scott Morrison was quick to blow his own trumpet over the plan to build a fleet of nuclear submarines by 2040 but re-establishing a national strategic fleet is an even more pressing issue that he has completely failed to act on”

“When it comes to maintaining essential maritime supply lines to this country, we cannot allow ourselves to be held hostage to international shippers whose priorities lie elsewhere”

“Climate change and the inevitable increase in weather-related disasters in Australia, the Pacific and South-East Asia require additional uplift and relief capacity to support our Defence forces.”

“Fuel security is vital to the economic and social needs of our nation and it’s reckless in the extreme to be reliant on foreign-flagged and foreign owned shipping to maintain our fuel supply. At the moment, however, even the Royal Australian Navy is ringing the alarm bell about their access to adequate fuel reserves”

“A national strategic fleet could be employed transferring our strategic fuel reserve from its current location, in the US, and bringing our fuel to Australia where it will be in high demand in the event of an international crisis or disaster.”


You can watch the announcement here




Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney