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McKinnon takes over the helm

THE huge gap between assistance provided to Australian shipbuilders compared with that enjoyed by their European competitors would be the most pressing issue facing the new chairman of the Australian Shipbuilders Association Bob McKinnon.

Mr McKinnon, managing director of Perth-based Austal Ships replaces Robert Clifford of Tasmanian fast ferry rival Incat as the head of the national ship building body.

Of even more concern to Mr McKinnon is the fact that the Australian Government has indicated that it would seek to phase out the three per cent subsidy after the end of the year, giving our shipbuilders just a few weeks to resolve the issue.

He said he could see little prospect of the European Governments upholding the agreement to remove their subsidies.

Australian shipbuilders re-ceive a subsidy of three per cent of production costs with a Re-search and Development Ship-building Innovation Scheme allowance of up to two per cent of production costs.

This compares with up to nine per cent subsidies on contract price given to European shipyards, though in reality this can be even higher.

“The ASA is currently monitoring this situation very closely and it is vital that we ensure the discontinuance of EU subsidies to remain internationally competitive,” Mr McKin-non said.

He urged the Australian Government to conduct an urgent review into the discontinuance of the Australian Shipbuilding Bounty scheme.

The ASA is also involved in promoting the $1 billion Australian industry through international exhibitions and plays a role in addressing technical and safety issues through participation in the International Maritime Organisation.

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