Albanese: Abbott targets shipping industry

THE HON ANTHONY ALBANESE MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT SHADOW MINISTER FOR TOURISM MEDIA RELEASE:

Tony Abbott will risk thousands of Australian jobs and the viability of the nation’s shipping industry if he accepts his Commission of Audit’s absurd demand to completely abandon any cabotage and to end wage equity for Australian mariners on domestic shipping routes.

The commission’s call for an end to cabotage arrangements means foreign-flagged vessels working Australian domestic routes would no longer be required to pay Australian-level wages.

Instead they could pay Third World level wages, giving them an irresistible competitive advantage over Australian-owned shipping companies. 

No wonder the Australian Shipowners Association today called the proposals “shockingly simplistic, one dimensional and reckless’’.

The ASA also noted that the recommendation came with no analysis of its likely impact.

Mr Abbott should reject this hard-right ideology immediately.

However, it is clear the Government favours the proposals, with Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss foreshadowing change earlier this week.

Labor created the current system to save the Australian industry, which went into a period of severe decline under the previous Howard Coalition Government.

In every other industry in Australia, employers are required to pay Australian award rates.

Labor believes there is no reason to make an exception when it comes to mariners and no reason to adopt a recommendation which the ASA has attacked as risking the future of the entire industry.