The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to apologise to North Star Cruises Australia (NSCA) representative Bill Milby, whom Mr Abbott has effectively called a liar for highlighting bureaucratic advice to trade in Australian shipping jobs for cheap foreign labour.
Mr Milby said in his submission to the Senate inquiry into the Abbott Government’s proposed changes to coastal shipping laws that the Federal Department of Transport advised him to sack Australian crew and replace them with cheap foreign workers.
Mr Abbott today rubbished the claims but Mr Milby is standing firm. “What I said actually took place, it was said by bureaucrats,” Milby told Guardian Australia. “If he wants to accuse me of lying then I take offence at that.”
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said this is more clear evidence that the Abbott Government is not working in the interests of Australian workers.
“Mr Abbott should apologise to Mr Milby and rather than attempt to belittle those who don’t agree with his worldview, stand up for Australian jobs in this vital domestic industry,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The question needs to be asked as to why a bureaucrat advised North Star Cruises Australia to shift their business offshore when this highly contentious piece of legislation hasn’t even passed the House of Representatives, let alone the Senate.
“This is #BorderFarce Mark 2 where it appears the bureaucracy is again being bullied into justifying political decisions by the Abbott Government – and poor decisions at that."
Mr Crumlin questioned the Abbott Government’s plan to dismantle the Coastal Trading Act, which dictates that ships trading between Australian ports must be crewed by Australian workers, or pay Australian award wages.
“When did it become okay for the Abbott Government to consign tax-paying Australian workers to the dole queues because that’s where the majority of Australian seafarers will end up if Mr Abbott is successful in dismantling the Coastal Trading Act,” he said.
“Australian crews are the most highly trained in the world and all have high-level security screening. As a result Australian-flagged ships are demonstrably safer than FOC shipping and have a strong record in protecting our pristine coastline.
“All the Abbott Government wants to do is introduce exploited foreign labour in a race to the bottom through Flag of Convenience (FOC) shipping.
“The Abbott Government’s proposed changes raise serious questions on national security, fuel security, jobs and skills and protection of our environment."