Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has described as “disappointing and short-sighted” a decision by the Abbott Government to de-fund maritime skills training in the Federal Budget.
The Budget Papers show that Sustaining Australia's Maritime Skills program will be axed.
“The Government will achieve savings of $5.0 million over three years from 2013‑14 by not proceeding with funding for the Sustaining Australia's maritime skills measure announced in the 2013‑14 Budget,” the Budget papers say.
“The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.”
However, the Australian Maritime Industry Census Report, Department of Infrastructure and Transport, January 2013 indicated a potential shortfall as at June 2015 of a total of 786 Seafarers; comprising 256 Ratings; 147 Engineer Officers; and 383 Masters and Deck Officers.
Further projections forecast a shortfall of a total of 627 seafarers at June 2017, comprising 76 Ratings; 168 Engineer Officers; and 383 Masters and Deck officers.
"Formalisation in the 2014/15 Budget of the Abbott Government’s decision in 2013 on coming to office to not allocate 2013/14 Budget funding to maritime workforce development is disappointing and short-sighted,” Mr Crumlin said.
"Maritime skills are essential to underpin maritime operations in coastal trading, in the offshore oil and gas industry, in marine tourism, in fishing and for all the support service like towage, pilotage and mooring, as well as in onshore roles in ports, in teaching of maritime skills and in regulatory agencies.
“The $5million was designed to streamline maritime training and make training more cost effective for shipowners, operators and employers.
"Given that the Government has released an Options Paper on coastal shipping regulation, which we anticipate will result in ongoing Government support for a coastal shipping industry, it seems premature to reallocate a modest sum of $5million which would support the implementation of the Maritime Workforce Development Strategy that had the support of all sectors of the maritime industry, and secure maritime skills for the next decade.”