CREW members of the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance are to rally in Port Kembla on Friday (January 18), calling on the federal government help save their jobs.

As reported by Daily Cargo News earlier in the week, almost 80 Australian crew members are to lose their jobs after BHP opted not to use the bulkers in their run from Port Hedland to Port Kembla.

The vessels had been used to move iron ore from BHP’s facilities in the Pilbara to the Bluescope Steel refineries in Port Kembla.

BHP says the freight arrangements date back to a time when BHP was a major steel manufacturer and processor. The crews were employed by Teekay.

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The Maritime Union has issued “a public plea to the Morrison Government to use their regulatory powers to save Australian seafaring jobs”.

The MUA said BHP and Bluescope were legally unable to use foreign seafarers to carry iron ore between Australian ports without a temporary license and that such licenses are subject to ministerial discretion.

Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese has also weighed in, saying “the government must prevent the loss of these Australian jobs by not issuing temporary licenses for any replacement ships that don’t have Australian crews under Australian conditions on the leg between Port Hedland and Port Kembla”.

A spokesman for Mr McCormack said the government was aware of reports that Teekay Australia on behalf of BHP, had decided to surrender its transitional general licences for the two ships.

“This is entirely a commercial decision by BHP which has stated that it is no longer in the business of vessel operation and management,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the decision followed other commercial decisions by ship operators to surrender transitional general licences resulting in the loss of Australian seafarer jobs.

“This again shows that the current regulatory settings are not working and the current regime, put in place under the Labor government, has failed to revitalise the Australian shipping industry,” the spokesman said.

“The government is committed to ensuring that the right regulatory settings exist in order for shipping to takes its rightful place as part of the national transport system.”

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