Federal Court Finding a Blow to Local Jobs

The Maritime Union of Australia is considering further legal options after the Federal Court found that the Temporary Licence granted to Alcoa remains valid, despite concerns that the Minister had contravened the Act.

A Full Federal Court found that there were many flaws in the way the licence had been reported but ultimately decided to uphold the licence.

In October, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development granted a licence to Alcoa which allowed the company to engage a foreign ship and a foreign crew on a domestic route between Western Australia and Portland, Victoria.

As a result, the vessel the MV Portland, which has serviced the Australian coast for more than 27 years will be scrapped and the crew will lose their jobs.

Maritime Union of Australia Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said the decision was disappointing and that the news had been upsetting to the crew who had been stranded in Portland for more than one month. 

“The ball is now in the Federal Government’s court. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss could put an end to this today by revoking the job-destroying licence.

“The Government should stand up for decent Australian jobs in seafaring at a time when everyone is concerned by their employment prospects. It’s obvious that the Abbott/Turnbull Government made this decision thinking they would get their bill to deregulate Australia’s shipping industry through the Senate.

“In the second last sitting week of the year, the Senate rightly decided to maintain cabotage provisions and protect Australian jobs. The Abbott/Turnbull Government should abide by the decision of the Senate and kill off this license give to Alcoa immediately.”


Background: Extracts from today’s decision on the way the Temporary Licence was reported

Reeves J:

At [89]: “Put differently, by not publishing a copy of the application as required by that provision, the minister committed a breach of the  [Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping)] Act.

At [91]:  “To sum up, I consider the Minister committed a breach of his obligations under s30 of the [Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act in relation to the publication of a copy of the application but, in the circumstances of this case  that breach did not result in the invalidity of the licence issued to Alcoa.”

Contact: Ashleigh Telford, MUA Communications Officer, 0424 375 160