The Deputy PM says foreign shipping employment laws are
The Deputy PM says foreign shipping employment laws are "flawed". Brenda Strong

Government could reverse shipping employment reforms

THE Abbott government is considering reversing reforms to shipping rules that demand foreign workers are paid Australian wages, only two years after they were put in place.

In a speech to a Shipping Australia meeting in Sydney on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss outlined the government's plans.

He said Labor's coastal shipping reforms, created to boost the Australian-registered shipping fleet, were "flawed, bureaucratic and protectionist".

Those reforms were also partly an effort to address the use of "flags of convenience" ships in Australian waters; ships owned by foreign companies registered to third party nations where few regulations apply.

Mr Truss said he was considering extending the nation's international shipping register to include coastal shipping services and create a "significantly more flexible permit system".

However, Labor's infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese, who drove the Labor reforms, said any such changes would remove the "level playing field for Australian-flagged vessels".

He said Australian law provided minimum pay levels for all industries and shipping should be "no different".

Mr Albanese further said that the only major shipping accidents in Australian waters in recent years involved foreign-flagged vessels which did not observe Australian safety standards.