Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (11:18): Two days ago, the Prime Minister stood in front of an Australian flag and told Australians how strong he was.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr S Georganas): I will remind the member for Whitlam that props are not allowed in the Federation Chamber. I ask that you put it away.
Mr STEPHEN JONES: He didn't stand in front of this flag, and there's a good reason for it.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask the member for Whitlam to put the prop away.
Mr Stephen Jones: He didn't stand in front of this flag, because he is busily conspiring with ship owners to have this flag removed from Australian vessels and replaced with a foreign flag, so that he can replace the crews on those Australian vessels with foreign crews. Over the last 20 years, international sea freight to and from Australia has more than doubled.
Mr Zimmerman interjecting—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will cease interjecting.
Mr STEPHEN JONES: But, remarkably, over that very same period, the number of Australians working on those ships has decreased. Flag-of-convenience shipping and temporary licences have been a critical part of this decline. Foreign crews on these flag-of-convenience vessels can earn as little as $1.20 an hour. They have less training and are often unaware of our sensitive coastal environment. We do not blame them, but we do blame their employers and we do blame this government, which is conspiring with employers to do them out of a job.
The most recent example is the CSL Thevenard, which has been operating around the Australian coast for nearly a decade carrying cement, fly ash, gypsum, mineral sands and other goods. This work has been conducted safely by qualified Australian seafarers. The ship was recently sailed to China, purportedly for dry-docking, where its Australian crew was sacked on 5 July. There were 40 Australians who worked that ship. They were from Tasmania, from your state, Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas, of South Australia, and one of the crew members was from Moss Vale, in my electorate. With extraordinary indifference to the fate of these workers, the coalition government has issued the company that owns this ship a temporary licence allowing it to continue to operate in Australia with a new crew of overseas workers. Now, the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 clearly states that coastal shipping should be undertaken by an Australian vessel and/or crew of an Australian vessel if they are available. With over 500 seamen currently waiting for a job in Australia, this is clearly not the case.
Today I'm calling on the Turnbull government to immediately cease issuing temporary licences to foreign vessels when there are Australian ships available. As an island nation, shipping is central to Australia's economy and national security. A strong leader would know this. A strong leader would put the interests of Australian workers and their families first. If the Prime Minister really was a strong leader, he'd do something about it. He'd do something to fix it.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members' constituency statements has concluded.