May 18, 2016

Liberals must rule out WorkChoices on Water

The Turnbull Government must reveal its intentions for the Australian maritime industry after news it plans to revive its WorkChoices on Water legislation, which was rejected last year by the Senate.

Infrastructure Minister, Darren Chester, has told Mackay’s Daily Mercury he will revisit coastal trading reforms, which included allowing foreign-crewed vessels paying third-world wages to undercut Australian vessels on domestic freight routes.

The ideologically charged legislation would have destroyed Australian jobs by giving foreign vessels a competitive advantage over local vessels.

Indeed, a Senate hearing into the proposals last year confirmed that senior Government bureaucrats told Perth cruise ship operator Bill Milby that one way to compete under the changes would be to sack his Australian crew, reflag his vessel overseas and hire a foreign crew on lower wages.

The Senate rejected the changes out of concern for jobs and national security, given that foreign mariners do not face the same background checks as Australian mariners.

Malcolm Turnbull must clarify his intentions.

Australians deserve to know before they vote on 2 July if Mr Turnbull wants to have another go at putting hard-working Australians out of work by replacing them with overseas mariners paid as little as a few dollars an hour.

If Mr Turnbull intends to replace the Australian flag on the back of Australian vessels with the white flag of surrender on Australian jobs, he should say so now.

A Shorten Labor Government will work to maintain a vibrant Australian maritime industry in accordance with this country’s economic, security and environmental interests.