The Maritime Union of Australia today called on all supporters of Australian merchant shipping to attend a rally and luncheon at Port Kembla this Saturday 13th February in support of Australian-crewed shipping. It will be called Iron Boat Day.
"This port" said Port Kembla Branch Secretary, Garry Keane, "has seen 53 Iron Boats sail in and out since BHP first decided to run their own shipping line ninety six years ago. Now we can count the fleet on the fingers of one hand."
"It is not just the fleet that is dying. The effect on this town has been devastating" said Mr Keane.
The Union intends to invite visitors to the rally - some of whom have come from interstate and as far away as New Zealand - to have a look at the effects of declining industry evidenced by shop closures in Wentworth Street - Port Kembla's once bustling main thoroughfare.
Speakers at the rally include Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and Federal Member for Throsby, Jennie George. They will be supported by a number of local community speakers including aboriginal activist Richard Davis from Illawarra ITEC who will present the opening welcome address and speak on the importance of national Sorry Day.
"We expect a sizeable roll-up" said Mr Keane, " the current Global Financial Crisis has proven the need for national self sufficiency in strategic industries. Australia as an island nation must protect its national boundaries and its trade with a viable shipping fleet under the famous Australian Red Duster."
Mr Keane said he expected the day to be one of good humour and conviviality as well as getting an important message across.
The Red Duster will fly throughout the ceremony.
Attachments: Iron Boat Day invitation; Iron Boat Day program. Iron Boat Day activities sheet.