Aug 15, 2018

 Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail – Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE ( Grayndler ) ( 18:05 ): by leave—I move amendment (2) and amendments (4) to (14) together, as circulated in my name:

(2) Schedule 1, item 9, page 5 (lines 1 and 2), omit the item.

(4) Schedule 1, item 16, page 5 (lines 24 and 25), omit the item.

(5) Schedule 1, item 36, page 8 (lines 25 to 27), omit the item.

(6) Schedule 1, items 37 to 40, page 8 (line 28) to page 9 (line 13), omit the items.

(7) Schedule 1, item 41, page 9 (lines 14 to 17), omit the item.

(8) Schedule 1, items 42 and 43, page 9 (lines 18 to 25), omit the items.

(9) Schedule 1, item 44, page 9 (lines 26 and 27), omit the item.

(10) Schedule 1, item 45, page 10 (lines 1 and 2), omit the item.

(11) Schedule 1, item 49, page 10 (line 16), after “43”, insert “or 51”.

(12) Schedule 1, items 58 and 59, page 11 (lines 10 to 13), omit the items.

(13) Schedule 1, items 61 to 63, page 11 (lines 16 to 26), omit the items.

(14) Schedule 1, item 65, page 12 (lines 21 to 25), omit subitem (4).

I note the enthusiasm of the minister for our moving these 12 amendments en bloc, because these are important amendments to schedule 1 of the legislation. They would omit a range of items from the legislation. Currently there are two types of licence variations to an existing temporary licence: authorised matters—that is, a change to a loading date or volume on an existing planned voyage; and new matters—authorising an entirely new voyage on an existing temporary licence. In the name of streamlining, the bill proposes replacing the two types of licence variations with a single temporary licence variation provision.

I’m sure that the government will justify this by saying, ‘Well, there are two things and we’re putting them into one and that makes it streamlined.’ What it does, though, is have massive implications. Reclassifying the addition of a new voyage to an existing temporary licence from a new matter to an authorised matter would halve, from the current two days to just 24 hours, the time available to a general licence holder—that is, an Australian based shipping operator—to apply for that new voyage.

One of the things that we know that the government has done in its decimation of the Australian shipping industry is that, for some voyages where a temporary licence was granted, it has replaced an Australian based ship—most notably, for example, the MV Portland—with a foreign ship. The temporary licence was granted without proper notification for Australian based ships that might have wanted to compete to undertake that work. So the advertising processes and the way that the department has conducted some of these operations, under instruction from the government, have had very real consequences. As the member for Shortland reiterated in his contribution, the Portland was basically taking alumina from Western Australia to Portland. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): Order! The question is that the amendments be agreed to. I call the member for Grayndler.

Mr ALBANESE: They were the two destinations involved. There was nothing temporary about it. This had happened for decades. The Portland went from Western Australia, picked up the raw product, took it round to Portland in Victoria for processing and production, and then went back again. The idea of a temporary licence was that it would never be granted for something that was quite clearly permanent work. Yet, in that example, the way that the temporary licence was granted was, in my view, completely flawed and calls into question the integrity of the way that the existing legislation was being administered. People were literally thrown out of their beds in the middle of the night on that ship, sacked and replaced by foreign workers on a foreign ship with a temporary licence doing permanent work. And the existing ship, of course, sailed off to Singapore, from memory, to be sold off. And it was sailed off by foreign workers, not the existing workforce, unlike some of the other atrocities that have been committed on this government’s watch, when Australian seafarers have been told in Singapore that they’ve lost their jobs and been flown back while the ship was flogged off to foreign interests.

There are a whole range of questions about how it is that those foreign seafarers were granted visas to be on that ship off the coast of Portland to take the vessel back. It is a great example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to the integrity of the visa system and the integrity of our borders. The government has a free-for-all when it comes to our borders, as long as it concerns a foreign seafarer working for a pittance often under flags of convenience—vessels flagged in places like Panama and various places where there are no taxation regimes and where ships have often, quite rightly, been called ships of shame as a result of the environmental disasters that have occurred and been associated with much of that industry.

Reclassifying the addition of a new voyage and just calling it an ‘authorised matter’ is cutting in half the capacity for the Australian based industry to bid for that voyage. It makes it even more difficult for Australian vessels to compete. And, again, this is what the industry says. Had Minister Chester bothered to consult properly with the industry, he would have been told:

Any new voyage should be subject to the existing timeframes for GL holders to respond or else the integrity of the system is undermined as GL holders rights/opportunities are reduced.

That’s what industry has to say. This legislation was so bad that the member for New England didn’t bring it forward. You look around the chamber: there are only about eight people here, but there are four former ministers. They change as often as some of the members opposite change their socks. The legislation drafted by Minister Chester was so bad that Minister Joyce didn’t bring it forward. That’s how bad it was. It was too bad for him. Have a good look at yourself, I say to Minister Chester. And I say to the new minister: have a good look at yourself. You don’t have to look in the mirror; have a look over there. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): The question is that the amendments be agreed to. I call the member for Grayndler

Mr ALBANESE: Because it is quite extraordinary—and I’ve lost him; Barnaby Joyce is showing me the loyalty he’s showing the coalition from day to day on that side.

The truth is that this legislation is lousy legislation. When it comes to the variation of temporary licences, it essentially cannot be justified because, again, it is aimed at: what’s the purpose of the legislation? For the many people out there who I’m sure are listening intently to this debate, wondering what TL and GL and some of these provisions are, I say to them that a lot of it’s pretty simple. The measures in these amendments the government is trying to operate with this piece of legislation follow Minister Truss’s disastrous legislation, which couldn’t even get a second reading through the Senate—and I predict that this will also meet a similar fate. There isn’t one thing—and I say to the minister that in his response it would be nice if he could point to one thing—in this legislation that is supportive of Australian industry. I’ve pointed to a range of measures in these amendments that, for example, change it from two days to 24 hours—changing it so that Australian ships don’t have a capacity to bid—and a range of the other amendments I have spoken about. Can the minister point to one thing in this piece of legislation that is supportive of Australian industry? What each of the measures in this legislation has in common is that they’re all designed to make it more difficult for Australian ships to compete with foreign ships.

And I say this: the party of Black Jack McEwen and the party of Doug Anthony wouldn’t cop this sort of legislation, because, historically, one of the things that the Country Party had in common, I think, with the Labor Party in many instances was a sense of nationalism and a preparedness to defend Australian national interests, industries and jobs. There was actually that understanding there. Yes, there’s a market, but this isn’t a free market. You’re asking Australian ships to compete around our coast doing Australian-only jobs. We’re not talking about international trade. We’re talking about taking freight essentially from one place in Australia to another place in Australia, just like a truck or a train, except one group has to pay Australian wages and conditions, has ships that are maintained to Australian standards, has environmental protections built in and has proper security clearances for everyone who works in the ships, versus a foreign ship that has foreign wages, foreign overheads and foreign maintenance conditions that aren’t as good as those in Australia, and the foreign ship doesn’t pay any tax, because it has a flag of Panama or some other flag of convenience on the back of it.

The fact is that not only are you saying, ‘Oh, well, that’s fair, we won’t recognise there’s a difference there’; you’re also changing the rules in this legislation to make it harder for the Australian based ship to compete. There are real consequences. We won’t have an Australian maritime skills base. We’re an island continent, for goodness sake! The idea that that doesn’t matter is just absurd. I say to the minister that there is an opportunity now to point to a single positive measure in this legislation that says, ‘This is in the interests of Australian ships’ capacity to compete.’