Give Timorese and PNG seafarers jobs on Australian ships

Published: 30 Mar 2009

MUA submission to the SENATE

The Maritime Union is calling for the Australian government to play a role in the training and employment of Timorese, PNG and Pacific island seafarers to help fill a skills shortage in Australia while creating jobs in their own nations to return to.

"There is a shortage of labour in Australia," National Secretary Paddy Crumlin told the committee. "We saw an explosion in trade, combined with the development of the hydrocarbon industry and the great blow-out in the price of oil and gas over the past 15 years."

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The union submission details how a closer economic and political integration with the Pacific would include a rights based labour mobility program, training at Australian maritime colleges and providing Timorese and others sea time on Australian coastal vessels.

Another key union objective is to ensure the nationals of regional nations with resources have first preference to work and transport these resources.

"This is why the Timor Gap is such a good indicator," said Paddy Crumlin. "It did not necessarily translate immediately into job opportunities for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinean or even Indonesian workers; it was a laissez-faire market, with people going in there and exploiting those reserves. We call shipping the pipelines and conveyor belts. It is the basic infrastructure. Why aren't there opportunities in the development of shipping policies that open up regional opportunities for work?"

The National Secretary outlined how the Maritime Union of Australia has been involved for a very long time in the region. The role of the merchant navy itself was essential to the security.

"We believe that building capacity of trade unions is essential to building the overall capacity of these communities and nations to be able to deal with the tremendous challenges facing the region," he said.

The MUA submission (52) to the standing committee can be downloaded from the Australian Parliament website

Hansard of the hearing can be downloaded below. The MUA hearing begins on p41


Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney