Shipping deregulation will weaken security: MUA

Maritime Union says the Federal Government’s new focus on border security doesn’t match with its planned deregulation of coastal freight.

Shipping deregulation will weaken security: MUA
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin.


The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is expecting the Federal Government to formally propose legislation winding back coastal shipping reforms at some stage this year.

But it says passage through the Parliament won’t be easy, particularly given the security implications that could be involved.

"On the one hand, we have stronger ties (between Australia and the US) on law enforcement with respect to transnational organised crime syndicates, but on the other hand the Abbott government wants to open up our coast to all comers – carrying such substances as car and jet fuel, diesel and ammonium nitrate," MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin says.

"It doesn’t make sense."

The union has instead urged the Federal Government to further enhance the existing rules, saying this would help grow the domestic seafaring industry.

"The MUA strongly urges the Abbott government to retain and improve the Coastal Trading Act," Crumlin says.

"The (planned) changes could impact around 2,000 direct jobs and up to 8,000 associated jobs."

The argument was backed by leaders of the equivalent union in the US.

Secretary-treasurer of the Seafarers International Union David Heindel says strict industry protections have been operating on domestic sea routes in the US since 1936.

"The US experience has been that strong cabotage laws help support jobs as well as bolster national security," he says.

"Especially in times of crisis, shipping is essential to national security and as a nation, you need to think twice about allowing essential skills to be placed in the hands of non-Australian interests."

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