Serious allegations have been made that a senior Abbott Government bureaucrat has advised an Australian shipping company to sack its Australian staff and replace them with foreigners earning third world wage rates.
In an extraordinary submission to a Senate committee examining the proposed new Abbott Government shipping laws, cruise ship company North Star Cruises says an official from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development advised it to move offshore if it wanted to remain competitive under the proposed new shipping regime.
North Star representative Bill Milby wrote to the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs committee that he had approached senior departmental officials at a public event on May 20 expressing concern that the government’s proposals would destroy Australian jobs.
The official had told him to “consider taking our ship True North off the Australian Shipping register, re-register the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew,’’ Mr Milby wrote.
This was followed up with a subsequent meeting with the department in Canberra on June 16 at which this advice was reinforced.
It is disgraceful and unacceptable that the Australian Government, which should protect our national interest, is openly advising businesses to sack Australian workers.
This submission makes it clear that at senior government levels there is an acceptance that this legislation will eliminate the Australian shipping industry.
This is unilateral economic disarmament.
This Government is literally going out of its way to consciously destroy Australian jobs with this policy.
The Government’s Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill, which is before the Parliament, would expose Australian shipping companies to unfair competition from foreign vessels that pay their crews Third World wage rates.
The changes would dismantle the level playing field created by the former Labor Government, which allowed foreign vessels to work domestic routes but required them to pay Australian level wages while engaged in domestic trade.
It is in Australia’s economic, environmental and security interests to maintain a viable local shipping industry.
But this Government wants to remove the Australian flag from the back of Australian ships and raise the white flag when it comes to Australian jobs.
To access the North Star Cruises Australia submission (number 36) go to: http://bit.ly/1JIh15k
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.