SPEECH: Standing up for Unemployed Maritime Workers

May 25, 2017

Mr Conroy: (Shortland) (13:44): Next week marks the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the Iron Chieftain off Newcastle. It is a little known fact that, outside of Bomber Command, merchant mariners suffered more casualties than any other service arm, and frequently they were not recognised for this contribution. I rise to talk about the economic decimation of coastal shipping. It is a sad truth now that thousands of maritime workers are out of work. A couple of weeks back I met with Jesse Stevens from Caves Beach and other unemployed maritime workers together with the MUA to talk about their plight—a plight that has been made worse by a government that is committed to ruining the Australian maritime industry, is committed to offshoring all these jobs and is committed to bringing in foreign crews working on $2 an hour. Do not just believe me; look at their own legislation that they tried to implement in 2015 and that they are trying to bring back right now. Their own explanatory memorandum for that legislation says that 90 per cent of the savings come from replacing 1,000 of the 1,100 maritime workers in this country doing coastal shipping with foreign crews. Their own explanatory memorandum says their legislation will cause the loss of 1,000 further maritime workers. That is a disgrace. We need to stand up for Australia’s proud maritime history. We are an island nation and we rely on the merchant navy to get supplies to where we need them. It is an absolute disgrace that we have a foreign crews on $2 an hour, rather than employing Australians to do this vital work.

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