Cash demonstrates disregard for Australian jobs on Q&A

Media Release from ALP Industrial Relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor

The Abbott-Turnbull Government‟s disregard for Australian workers was reinforced by its Employment Minister, Senator Cash, last night when she failed to support sacked Australian seafarers.

When asked by an unemployed seafarer why the Government would replace taxpaying Australian maritime workers with exploited foreign seafarers on 457 working visas paid as little as $2 an hour, Senator Cash failed to support Australian jobs.

TONY JONES: Do you think it should be Australian seamen on these vessels?

MICHAELIA CASH: I think we need to ensure we are internationally competitive.

– Q&A, Monday 7 March

The Liberals must explain how they expect Australian workers to compete with foreign workers on Australian ships being paid as little as $2 an hour.

If by “internationally competitive” Senator Cash really means Australian workers should be paid $2 an hour, then she should come out and say it.

Is Michaelia Cash suggesting an Australian truck driver who is transporting goods on Australian roads should be paid $2 an hour? Using her logic from Q&A the answer is yes. That's disgraceful.

Since its election this Government has shown nothing but disregard for Australian workers.

Senate Estimates recently revealed that the Minister was aware security guards would forcibly remove workers from the MV Portland and replace them with a foreign crew.

On Q&A, Senator Cash also falsely blamed Labor for a backdoor deal the Abbott-Turnbull Government made with the owners of the MV Portland enabling foreign crew to be hired.

Only two months ago the Senate rejected the Government's "WorkChoices on Water" legislation, which would have allowed foreign-flagged vessels paying Third

World wages to undercut Australian-owned vessels paying award rate wages.

Despite this, the Liberal-National Government issued the owners of the MV Portland a temporary licence allowing the use of a foreign crew, which led to Australian workers being forcibly removed from the ship in the dead of night.

Instead of attempting to undermine Australian shipping as part of a return to the Coalition's WorkChoices agenda, Mr Turnbull should listen to the will of the Australian people as expressed through the Senate and revoke the temporary licenses his Government has granted.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government is continuing to target the Australian maritime industry as part of a broader attack on the wages and conditions of all Australian workers. It is selling out Australian jobs.

Australians have a right to work in this country; Labor will always stand up for that.

By contrast, the Liberals want to remove the Australian flag from our ships and run up the white flag on Australian jobs.