Nov 26, 2015

Senate throws WorkChoices Overboard

 The Senate has rejected the Turnbull Government’s ideologically driven attempt to destroy the Australian domestic shipping industry in a major victory for Australian jobs.

The Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill would have allowed foreign flagged ships paying third world wages to undercut Australia flagged ships on domestic cargo trade.

Had it been passed, Australian ship owners, required by law to pay Australian level wages, would have been forced to operate under a competitive disadvantage.

Ship owners would have faced a very simple choice; reflag their vessels to remove the Australian flag and replace their Australian crews with cheap foreign labour, or go out of business.

Indeed, earlier this year, when Perth shipowner Bill Milby warned the government that the proposed changes would destroy his business, bureaucrats advised him that if he wanted to remain competitive he should sack his local crew and hire foreigners at lower rates of pay.

Today’s Senate decision to toss this wicked legislation overboard is the culmination of a two year campaign by Labor and the Australian maritime industry to stand up for Australian jobs.

It is in Australia’s economic, environmental and national security interests to maintain a vibrant domestic merchant fleet.

Yet the Government, under pressure from the big end of town, was prepared to literally destroy the industry and put thousands of people out of work as though their jobs and the security of their families was of no consequence.

People and their jobs matter. Labor will continue to stand up for Australian shipping.

We will also work with the maritime sector in in good faith on any proposals to improve the efficiency of Australian shipping, provided they do not include sacking the entire Australian maritime workforce.