On Wednesday afternoon, fifteen unemployed Australian seafarers, including two from the MV Portland, arrived in the marble halls of Parliament House, Canberra. Together with Senator Sue Lines, the MUA had invited all of the Federal MPs and Senators who had supported the defeat of the Warren Truss Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill to meet with some of the workers whose careers have been put on hold while the Federal LNP Government has attempted to destroy Australian Jobs and the Australian Shipping Industry.
The MUA Seafarers, who travelled from Queensland, Victoria, Newcastle, Port Kembla and Sydney to attend the function, had two things to say to the invited Politicians:
1/ Thank you for standing up for Australian Seafarers’ right to work in their own country
2/ What are you going to do now to save the Australian Shipping Industry from future attacks?
The event was candidly named ‘The Unemployed Seafarers’ Christmas Party” making light of the many Christmas functions at Parliament during the final sitting week as elected MPs prepared for their Christmas Holidays. The very real stories of workers who cannot secure employment in their own industry, in their own country (and for some were facing the bleakest Christmas of their working lives) were shared in frank conversations with the 20 Federal politicians and staff who attended on the night.
The function was addressed by Senator Sue Lines and Anthony Albanese who thanked the Seafarers and the MPs for their continued fight to save the Australian Shipping Industry and to ward off ideological attacks from the LNP Government. Senator Janet Rice from the Greens also outlined her experience aboard an FOC vessel earlier this year with Matt Leach and then Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray spoke on behalf of the MUA and the Unemployed Seafarers in the room. Ian outlined the continuing struggle to maintain the right for Seafarers to be employed in Australia. He also acknowledged the support of the Politicians and Union leaders who have continued to assist the MUA in this campaign, including the great work of Mick Doleman and Rod Pickette.
MPs and Senators in attendance included Anthony Albanese, Alannah Mactiernan, Gavin Marshall, Janet Rice, Rachel Siewart, Brendan O’Connor, Doug Cameron, Joe Bullock, Carol Brown, Lisa Chesters, Stephen Jones, Sharon Bird, Anne Urquart, John Madigan, Dio Wang, Jenny McAlister and Jan McLucas.
Additional guests included Luke Hilakari, VTHC Secretary, Michael Borowick ACTU Assistant Secretary, Michael O’Connor CFMEU National Secretary and Jarrod Moran from the AMOU.