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‘Leave it to the Manila department of transport to do’: Australian seafarer battle heats up

The fight to keep Australian seafarers employed in the face of cheaper overseas alternatives took to the senate today with harsh words traded.

The current government is trying to relax laws to allow more foreign crews to operate in Australian waters, something that has been bitterly contested.

The Maritime Union of Australia estimated 1944 jobs would disappear if the government pushes ahead with its law changes.

“We would say, ‘Leave it to the Manila department of transport to do’,” International Transport Workers Federation national secretary Padraig Crumlin told the senate inquiry.

Meanwhile, five Australian crew who have refused to leave their ship, CSL Melbourne, since last week in opposition to an incoming foreign crew change are expected to have their fate decided today at the federal court in Sydney.

CSL Australia, a subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines, has filed an application in the federal court to order the removal of the seafarers. The ship will head to Singapore after a charter expired locally and the Australian crew will be replaced by a cheaper alternative.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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