Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has lamented the sacking of nearly 80 Australian seafarers, including some from the Newcastle-Hunter region, with the decision of BHP and Bluescope to remove two ships from service.
Ms Claydon said she was concerned that BHP and Bluescope had used the reduced scrutiny of the holiday season to quietly remove the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance from service and sack their Australian crew.
“This is a tragic day for the once-proud Australian shipping industry, and a grave loss for all the seafarers,” Ms Claydon said.
“I am especially concerned for the Novocastrians on board these ships – it’s their families and local communities that will wear the brunt of this despicable corporate greed.
“It’s a travesty to see these two Australian companies turning their backs on Australian workers and our proud seafaring legacy.
“I hold grave fears these workers will be replaced with foreign crews with workers being paid as little as $2 an hour.”
Ms Claydon said the Federal Liberal Government had been a key architect of the decline of the Australian shipping industry.
“From day one, the Liberal Government set about dismantling Labor’s protections for Australian workers and our local shipping industry,” Ms Claydon said.
“As a result we are now in the diabolical situation where there are only fourteen Australian-flagged vessels and hundreds of highly skilled Australian seafarers are out of work.”
Ms Claydon said she wanted the BHP and Bluesteel to sit down with the unions and find a way to ensure that Australian seafarers are used in the local steel supply chain, as they have been for the past century.
“Bluescope has no excuse not to employ Australian seafarers, especially when the company recorded a $1.6 billion profit in the last financial year,” Ms Claydon said.
“As the world’s largest island nation, Australia needs a strong shipping industry staffed by skilled Australian workers.”