Originally published in Lloyd’s List, 2010/09/24
SIR, I have just read the third piece in as many weeks by Clive Davidson on the wonders he performed as chief executive of Australian Maritime Safety Authority in cutting the budget for Aids to Navigation (‘Australia can teach UK a lesson on navigational aids’, Lloyd’s List, September 14).
I have to say it is not actually that difficult to cut costs — it is whether what you have got left is fit for the purpose that matters.
You do not have to go far from the UK coast to observe aids to navigation services funded from a central government purse, so it is easy to see what you will get.
During his tenure at AMSA, Mr Davidson also supervised competitive (i.e. cheap) pilotage in the Great Barrier Reef, clearly unfit for purpose, but felt unable to deal with its obvious deficiencies, which were more apparent with every successive grounding.
The UK Government needs to think long and hard about the light dues debate. The botched 1987 Pilotage Act is a model of how lobbying to reduce costs by certain sectors drives down standards, and ironically ends up costing more.
Secretary-general International Maritime Pilots’ Association