The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is urging MP’s to oppose changes to the Coastal Trading Act, warning national security is at risk.
The amendments, which will be debated in Federal Parliament this week, will allow $2 an hour seafarers to work on domestic routes and further open up the coast to foreign ships-of-shame.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said foreign seafarers currently engaged in the international trade did not undergo the same checks and balances Australian crew were required to undertake.
“Australians currently working in the maritime industry have to undergo a federal check to apply for a Maritime Security Identification Card, deregulating the domestic trade will do away with this security component,” Mr Crumlin said.
“A ship carrying goods between Sydney and Melbourne should logically come under the same safety, environmental and labour regulation as a truck plying the same route overland.”
Australian seafarers are among the most highly trained in the world and respect our most fragile environments such as the vulnerable Great Barrier Reef.
But these amendments would dump thousands of Aussie workers on to the ever-growing dole queue.
“Malcolm Turnbull is pushing forward with a disastrous controversy-laden Abbott-era policy, which according to the Government's own reports did not take into account economic impacts associated with job losses," Mr Crumlin said.
"If Turnbull truly wants to be more consultative, then I urge him to speak to all shipping industry stakeholders, including current domestic shipping operators and workers engaged within the industry.
“The Prime Minister has a chance to take a leadership role on this as he was on the board when Australia National Line was privatised in the nineties. As a result he should understand the importance of the domestic shipping industry for out island nation.
"Thousands of people will be consigned to unemployment, probably long-term, if these amendments are allowed to pass.”
Australian coastal vessels are currently maintained to the highest standard.
Contrast this with cheap foreign trading ships-of-shame with proven incidents of environmental, safety and crew welfare breaches.