Portland crew member Brett Kolpin wrote this letter to the editor of the Portland Observer:
My name is Brett Kolpin, I am a crew member of the MV Portland. I am annoyed and outraged with the comments of Hugh Francis in Friday’s letter to the editor.
I am a Portlander, and a hard working Australian. I have been working class all my life. I have a beautiful partner and twin 21 year old children one with special needs.
My job aboard the ship is not just a job it’s a passion. A passion to care for a ship, the environment we sail in and the country we serve. I am still in disbelief as I was on November 13 that I could be sacked, the ship sold and that a foreign ship could then come and take the run we have done for 27 years without incident or accident.
The vessels that have replaced us so far are dodgy. That is the only word for it. They underpay their crew, they treat them badly, they pay bribes around the world. How is this ok Portland? How is this ok Australia? Why aren’t you outraged about that Hugh Francis?
We never wanted to disrupt the cruise ship and we didn’t. We said that from the beginning and we kept our word. What I would like to say to my fellow Portlanders is also consider the boost to the economy that our stand for Australian jobs has created. Over 300 people have travelled to Portland to support us from every state in the country. They have bought food, drinks, Christmas presents, accommodation, flights, car hire and frequented every shop in town. You have seen them, met them and accepted their money too. Many of these people have said they will come back here for a holiday and one retiree also wants to move here.
Our fight for Australian jobs on the Australian coast will continue for the rest of our lives because we believe that a country with a strong shipping industry is a safe one.
Never forget that the Australian merchant navy fleet (the 4 arm of defence in wartime) played an enormous part in all the wars Australia has fought in.
Without Australian ships what is the future of our ISLAND NATION? What jobs will there be for our kids and our grandkids? My kids will never get the chance to be seafarers, none of kids will!
Thank you Portland for all of your support and I hope this will continue. My family thanks your too.
Proud Seafarer on the MV Portland