North Star Cruises told a Senate inquiry the senior Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development bureaucrat suggested the company move operations to another country with cheaper wage rates.
The advice clashes with assurances from Prime Minister Tony Abbott the Government is protecting and growing employment as a priority, and feeds into Labor’s concerns the China Free Trade Agreement could give Australian jobs to Chinese workers.
At issue is the Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill, the Government proposal to allow foreign lines to deliver in Australia and then work on the domestic coastal runs for 183 without paying crews Australian rates.
The dispensation, aimed at reducing freight costs for business, has endangered Australian shipping companies which still have to pay by Australian standards.
The written submission by Bill Milby of North Star Cruises to the rural and regional affairs committee said he had approached department officials on May 20 to warn the law change would make his company uncompetitive.
Mr Milby said one official had advised him to “consider taking our ship True North off the Australian Shipping register, re-register the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew’’.
He said the advice was repeated at a June 16 meeting in Canberra.
The company had been able to grow from four Kimberley cruises in 1987 to 19 in 2014, increasing its permanent Australian workforce from three to 50.
“We have consistently asked that the legislation separate coastal passenger shipping from coastal cargo/freight shipping and apply specific legislation regulations to each,” said the North Star Cruises submission.
“However, unfortunately, the current Amendment Bill before Parliament still incorporates both (distinctly different) types of shipping, with both being identically covered by the same regulations.”
In a separate submission Peter Cadwalladere, chairman of the Australian-owned Intercontinental Shipping Group said the Government laws would make his company “completely uncompetitive”.
“The jobs, economic income and consumption expenditure and tax revenue of 40 people will be lost to Australia,” said Mr Cadwallader, a Liberal voter from Tony Abbott’s electorate.
“As a long-time member of the Liberal Party (nearly 50 years) I am aware that the focus of Coalition policy is jobs and growth.
“Both these objectives will be sacrificed by this bill in direct contradiction of Coalition policy.”
Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said today it was “disgraceful and unacceptable that the Australian Government, which should protect our national interest, is openly advising businesses to sack Australian workers”.
“This submission makes it clear that at senior government levels there is an acceptance that this legislation will eliminate the Australian shipping industry.
“This is unilateral economic disarmament.”
Regional Development Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has defended the proposed laws as a means of saving Australian businesses from fewer shipping options and higher costs.
The Government argues the volume of freight is expected to grow nationally by 80 per cent by 2030 but the boost in coastal shipping will only be 15 per cent.
This would disadvantage businesses relying on ships.
news.com.au 2 Sep 2015
This is a policy right across the board and not just in one industry.
Australia is an 'economic project', where Aussies are sacked from their positions, only for companies to re-hire migrant workers / 457 VISA holders and choose from a bevy of slave labour via newly imported 'refugees'.
Australian politicians destroying families by financial terrorism / sabotage.