Mr PURCELL (Western Victoria) — The matter I raise tonight is for the Minister for Regional Development. As the house knows, I am a strong supporter of Alcoa in Portland, and only last week I made representation seeking that its power contract be sorted out. Nineteen Portland families this week are facing the loss of jobs. The ship MV Portland has transported aluminium from Western Australia to Portland every two or three weeks for the last 28 years. It has been announced that the domestic crew of the MV Portland will be replaced with a foreign crew, and 19 crew will lose their jobs. I am concerned that the foreign workers will replace local jobs, and I understand that the foreign workers will be paid as little as US$2 per hour.
The MV Portland not only has a professional workforce on board but also has a close and engaging relationship with the community of Portland, with the local engineering firms and also with the community services, all of which contributes to strengthen the standard of professionalism of Australian seafarers. These seafarers are now facing the reality of the loss of their jobs, which directly impacts their livelihoods and their families. They are now facing long-term financial struggles with financial commitments such as mortgages, expenses for children and their day-to-day costs. This is what the crew of the MV Portland is saying:
The reality we are all facing with our imminent departure and job loss has left us confused as to why we are being sold out so easily without any consultation. It is disappointing to be abandoned so easily with such little regard, especially as we have all put in our hard work and time in making the MV Portland a safe workplace as well as a professionally operated vessel for the coastal trade on which it runs.
I therefore ask the minister to immediately intervene and discuss the matters with federal counterparts seeking the overturning of this temporary licence and therefore the saving of these local jobs.