I wrote earlier this year in regards to the lack of opportunities for young Australians to embark on a career at sea.
I used the story of a young man who has done the hard yards and achieved the ultimate – a Deck Watchkeepers certificate enabling him to sail on any size ship anywhere in the world as a deck officer. He is lucky as he has the certificate, whilst others cannot find a shipping company to give them the start they need.
These young Australians have spent a lot of money to attend the Australian Maritime College hoping, on completion of the course, they can start a career at sea.
Nearly all of them in the last four years are working behind bars, labouring (like the young gentleman) and checking their emails hourly in the hope they will get a cadetship.
Many have given up on the dream and chosen other careers.
The obstacles these guys face is immense such as the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping Amendment) Bill 2017.
This bill will not give these guys jobs or bring any new ships on the coast.
Then there is the abuse of subclass 400 visas, especially in the offshore oil and gas industry. One example is a company applying to the Immigration Department seeking to bring in foreign guest workers to replace qualified Australians.
The stress on these workers and their families is unnecessary and no one has mentioned the sad reality of many of these workers doing something that I don’t want to put in print, but it is happening.
We already have ships trading on the coast that have replaced Aussie ships such as the Portland, Alexander Spirit, Broadwater, BP Loyalty, Kowulka, Iron Sturt, etc.
The MSC Kia-Ora is another example, a 145-metre cargo vessel carrying containers from Melbourne-Bell Bay-Sydney-Brisbane-Sydney-Noumea-NZ.
The all-Filipino crew love it and stay as long as they can get that extra tax free wage.
I was hoping readers of the DCN working for shipping companies would have contacted their marine superintendents in the hope they could help these young Australians, but there has been nothing to date.
One positive piece of news is Royal Caribbean International planning to recruit Australian cadets next year.
If the other cruise companies did the same we would see many of these students away to sea like they deserve.
Captain Michael Kelly
Yowie Bay, NSW