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AUSMARINE September 2009 13
"Members of Shipping Australia believe that there are many
good reasons why Minister Julia Gillard should not have
passed the regulation extending the workplace Act to all
licensed and permit ships carrying coastal cargo irrespective
of the flag of the vessel," Llew Russell, Chief Executive Officer
of Shipping Australia Limited (SAL) said in mid July.
"Outside of the United States, most countries in the world do
not have such a restrictive and protectionist policy. Many
Shipping Australia members operating foreign vessels carry
coastal cargo between Australian ports under a permit and such
permits can only be granted if there are no available vessels
licensed under the Australian Navigation Act within three days
before or after the scheduled load date.
"However, Minister Gillard has announced that from January
1, 2010 a modified version of a modernised seagoing award will
apply to such vessels on the basis that foreign crew carrying
Australian domestic cargo should have access to Australian
industrial relations law," he said.
Mr Russell said an analogy could be drawn with a land-based
carrier using foreign guest workers under a permit system but
clearly such permits would be completely invalid under the
existing cabotage system because there would be Australian road
and rail carriers to undertake the task.
According to SAL, the relevant implications of Minister Gillard's
proposals on a policy that, in some form, has been in existence in
Australia since 1912, will likely be that it will drive up costs and
effectively push much more domestic cargo onto road and rail,
increasing rather than reducing Australia's carbon pollution, as
shipping creates lower carbon dioxide emissions than road and rail.
Australia's international competitiveness will be affected as
we are moving towards similar protectionist policies to those that
currently apply in the United States.
"The government would be opposed to the suggestion that
Australian industrial laws should apply to foreign vessels carrying
our overseas trade but it originates in Australia or is destined for
Australia; so why is that so different to domestic cargo generated
in Australia?" he asked.
"The Maritime Union of Australia is reported in the media
saying this policy will end the inhuman treatment of foreign
crews but there are the minimum terms and conditions applied,
for example, under the Asian Rates of the International Transport
Federation which have been actively enforced by the MUA in the
past. If the union is so concerned then surely international
solutions to the problem are preferable to the equivalent of
putting up tariff barriers," Mr Russell continued.
Mr Russell pointed out that this policy covers many portfolios
and the Australian Government appears to be creating policy on
the run without consultation or transparency, which has the
potential to seriously damage Australia's international
competitiveness and, in fact, its international standing.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and
Workplace Relations Julia Gillard
World may view extension of Fair Work Act 2009 to foreign seafarers as protectionist
Simon Pickering: 0431 934 731
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