Sydney: The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has criticised moves by the Australian government to deregulate its shipping industry, saying it will place at risk thousands of domestic jobs in the maritime sector.
“The changes would dismantle a comprehensive reform package delivered by the previous government three years ago that created a level playing field in domestic shipping,” the union said in a statement.
The 2012 package included support for Australian shipping companies, including tax breaks and training subsidies, as well as a requirement that foreign-flagged vessels pay Australian level wages when working domestic trade sectors.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “The ITF strongly urges the retention and improvement of the Australia’s Coastal Trading Act.
“The international experience is that cabotage is a normal way to deliver domestic freight securely, safely and predictably for many maritime nations including the United State, Japan, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
“The 2012 changes have the potential to create employment, sustain business opportunities and productivity and support Australia’s economy, environment and way of life – but they must be given time to work.
“It is in the national interest to retain and grow the coastal shipping industry yet these changes could directly impact around 2,000 direct jobs and up to 8,000 associated jobs – so 10,000 Australian jobs could go offshore.
“This could spell disaster on a number of fronts – maritime jobs, skills, fuel security, maritime security and pose a threat to the environment.
“There could also be a significant impact on the offshore oil and gas sector – with the result being limited visa regulations and oversight.
“We expect the government to put up legislation before our parliament in the first half of this year and we’re gearing up for a fight.”