Maritime Milestone As RTM Weipa Welcomes All-Australian Crew

Maritime Union of Australia members marked an important milestone as they walked up the gang way of the RTM Weipa in Gladstone today

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin hailed the moment as a "significant breakthrough".

"This is the first Rio Tinto Marine vessel that will be manned by Australians under the negotiated framework agreement, and it should be recognised for the major milestone it marks in the future of our country's shipping industry," Mr Crumlin said.

"The RTM Weipa is one of a number of new ships in the Australian trade, where they have both replaced older vessels, but both retained Australian crew - which is a first for more than a decade.

"The MUA has worked hard to reach this agreement with Rio Tinto Marine for Australian crew to be employed on board their new vessel."

Mr Crumlin said the RTM Weipa replaced the River Endeavour, a bulk carrier that was more than 25 years old.

"Without the Federal Labor Government announcing its shipping policy during the recent election campaign, it would be a very different story," he said.

"It's down to Labor's finalization of that policy commitment that we are where we are today for this historic occasion.

"Otherwise we'd be continuing to mount the fight against more ships flagging out, going offshore and coming back to work inside our national freight forwarding industry with guest workers from other countries backed by tax minimization and regulatory avoidance of all domestic labour standards."

Mr Crumlin said the other new vessel was Teekay's Ocean Protector which replaces the former coast guard vessel Oceanic Viking.