The Maritime Union says New Zealand is facing a deepening crisis in their maritime supply chain, which requires bold thinking and speedy action to fix.
Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary Craig Harrison says the global Covid-19 pandemic exposed pre-existing weaknesses in their logistics sector, and created enormous problems.
He says with a new wave of Covid-19 causing major problems overseas, the outlook is not good.
“Global congestion has been complicated for New Zealand due to our over-dependence on global shipping operators,” says Craig.
“International shipping services were currently disrupted, some port calls were being missed, freight costs had risen by unprecedented levels, and shippers could get more profits from concentrating on other larger markets.
“These issues would continue into next year and beyond,” says Craig.
"A change in our approach is required and the time for change is now."
Craig says New Zealand transport policy has been dominated by a “leave it to the market ideology,” but the industry was abandoning those failed ideas in favour of a more co-ordinated approach that prioritises resilience and reliability.
“This convergence of views shows how New Zealand needs to quickly rebuild our shipping capability.
“New Zealand flagged coastal shipping could assist by ensuring regional ports had a reliable service, which at the moment they lack.
“Coastal shipping could be built on by expanding New Zealand flagged shipping services to Australia and the Pacific,” says Craig.
Craig says this would require changes to the Maritime Transport Act.
"The key issue here is resilience,” he says.
“The threat to our exports and imports is due to being completely reliant on global operators for whom New Zealand is not a priority.
“Other benefits of New Zealand shipping would include low carbon emissions and security of our supply chain in the event of natural disasters such as flooding or earthquakes, which put land transport out of action,” he says.