Feb 3, 2016

Government facilitates sacking of shipping workers

Malcolm Turnbull should today meet Australian shipping workers protesting outside Parliament to explain why he has cleared the way for them to be sacked and replaced by foreign crews earning Third World wages.

In recent months the Government has issued the owners of the MV Portland and the CSL Melbourne with permits allowing them to order their Australian crews to sail the vessels to Singapore, where they will be sacked and replaced by foreign workers.

This attempt to undermine Australian shipping comes despite November’s Senate rejection of Mr Turnbull’s WorkChoices on Water legislation, which would have allowed foreignflagged vessels paying foreign wage rates to undercut Australian shipping companies, which are required to pay Australian level wages.

Undeterred by the will of the Parliament, Mr Turnbull is now abusing a provision of existing law that allows for the issuance of permits for temporary use of foreign crews where no Australian crews are available.

It is extraordinary that any Australian Government would actually facilitate Australians being sacked because they are paid Australian wage rates.

And it is unacceptable that an Australian Government would undermine the national interest by deliberately trying to undermine Australian industry.

Today I met some of the sacked workers, who are staging an ongoing protest outside Parliament House in Canberra.

If Mr Turnbull has any ticker, he should meet these workers to hear firsthand about the effects of this ideologically charged attack on Australian shipping.

Having facilitated the loss of their jobs and the financial security of their families, the Prime Minister owes them an explanation about why he places no value on their industry or their livelihoods.

He might also explain why he wants to replace Australian workers who pay tax in Australia with foreign workers who do not.