- Ports Australia and the Queensland Ports Association (QPA) has prepared this paper to provide factual information on key issues related to the role of Ports in the Great Barrier Reef region.
- Port activities have been a key focus in recent years, particularly where environmental and heritage matters related to the Great Barrier Reef are concerned.
- Ports Australia and the QPA are affiliated peak industry bodies representing all Queensland port authorities: Brisbane, Gladstone, North Queensland Bulk Ports, Townsville and Ports North.
2.0 IMPORTANCE OF PORTS
- Ports play a key role in maintaining coastal populations by providing vital supplies such as building products and fuel that can only be provided through shipping and ports.
- Ports are critical in supporting regional industries such as the mining, beef and sugar cane industries enabling the economy to grow through the export of their agricultural and mineral commodities.
- The importance of ports and their efficient functioning is recognised in the National Ports Strategy, National Land Freight Strategy, the Queensland Ports Strategy and related transport legislation and regulations.
It is critical that access and operations at ports in the Great Barrier Reef region is maintained.
- Ports Australia has prepared this paper to provide factual information on key issues related to dredging in the Great Barrier Reef region.
2.0 THE NEED FOR DREDGING
- Dredging of shipping channels and berths is an essential to the safe and efficient operation of ports in the Great Barrier Reef region. Shipping channels are of equal importance to supply chains as are road and rail networks.
- The safe and efficient operation of shipping is essential in enabling import and export industries to operate and compete in global markets.
- The value of trade transiting through Queensland ports equates to approximately $50 billion p.a.
- Like land-based transport networks, channels need to be maintained and developed as trade grows.
2.1 Capital Dredging
- Required to create new or improve existing channels and berths. Periodic capital dredging has occurred at all Queensland ports in response to the ongoing global trend to move to larger ships to meet the economies of scale of modern competitive markets.
- For example, the Port of Gladstone has undergone major capital dredging programs approximately every 20-30 years as part of its growth as a major industrial port. This has required channels to be 55% deeper (10.4m to 16.1m) than they were in 1980 to allow access by modern ships.
- Certain lobby groups have grossly exaggerated the volume of proposed capital dredging that is likely to occur in the Great Barrier Reef region. They have included projects that were nothing more than concepts, those that have been cancelled and several which have been rejected.
Without capital dredging to support seaborne trade, Queensland would struggle to remain globally competitive or provide new opportunities for employment, industries, trades and agriculture.
Industrial action by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) against DP World Australia in support of their 2014 Enterprise Agreement claims has created severe disruptions across port facilities in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
Ports Australia has welcomed the release of the joint Commonwealth-State Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan for public comment.