Seafarers want a fair go and 'majority' of polled agree
A POLL of voters in the Flynn electorate has found overwhelming support for the use of Australian seafarers on merchant vessels that carry goods and freight along the coastline.
In the poll of 701 Flynn voters, conducted by uComms on the evening of April 10, 83.8 per cent either agreed or strongly agreed that merchant ships working on the Australian coast should have a crew of Australian workers.
Asked whether Australian industrial law and employment standards should govern merchant ships in Australian waters, regardless of the origins of the vessel and nationality of the crew, 77.6 per cent agreed.
The polling company was recently found to be co-owned by a number of unions, including the CFMMEU but Maritime Union of Australia national officer Mich-Elle Myers insisted the poll was legitimate.
"The answers are coming straight from the people of Gladstone so I would reject any inference that the data is being skewed to our cause," Ms Myers said in front of Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd's office.
"We need to save the Australian shipping industry... we think locals care about it and we should be saving Australian shipping and getting Australian workers on Australian ships that are going around the coast.
"The Maritime Union has been fighting to save Australian shipping since the election of the Abbott/ Turnbull/ Morrison government.
"We've had seafarers ripped off their ships in the middle of the night and replaced by exploited foreign labour."
Mr O'Dowd labelled the poll as "not credible" and said "the current coastal shipping system was actually designed and implemented by the previous Labor Government in 2012".
"Since then, the number of Australian registered vessels with coastal licences has fallen from 30 to 13, and shipping's share of the Australian freight task has dropped to about 17 per cent. That is not good enough," Mr O'Dowd said.
"The government supports an efficient, cost-effective shipping sector with jobs and opportunities for Australians."
Flynn candidate Zac Beers said under a Labor Government a range of measures to rebuild local shipping would be introduced, including establishing a Strategic Fleet to be overseen by a Strategic Fleet Taskforce, guarantee that domestic shipping is in the first instance carried out by an Australian operator, ensuring proper oversight of temporary licences and address skills shortages by re-establishing the Maritime Workforce Development Forum.
"This will create new skilled Australian jobs while also guaranteeing decent pay and conditions for local seafarers," Mr Beers said.
"I want to see those ships crewed by Australians, getting paid Australian rates."