THE National Cabinet must establish “green lanes” to allow interstate travel by maritime workers, the Maritime Union says.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin has written to the National Cabinet saying travel restrictions and border closures between Australian states and territories had led to many Australian seafarers being isolated at sea, unable to get home, with replacement crew members also unable to join the vessels.

“Our nation’s reliance on maritime transport to maintain continuous supply has never been more obvious than during this pandemic,” MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“The current border closure system is preventing many of the people who operate that supply chain from getting to work or returning home to their families, causing serious mental and financial hardship.

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“We need genuine cooperation internationally and locally, across all levels of government and industry, to develop consistent, sustainable guidance that protects workers, the community and the maritime sector.”

Mr Crumlin wrote to the national taskforce this month calling for the federal government to:

  • Establish and fund a dedicated task force to coordinate across state and federal government agencies;
  • Work with the aviation sector to facilitate flights for seafarers;
  • Engage labour supply countries to better coordinate repatriation procedures for international seafarers;
  • Rationalise visa, permit, and exemption processes, to support crew changes directly;
  • Adopt the IMO-recommended framework for crew joining and leaving their ships;
  • Work with unions and industry to ensure supply chain integrity;
  • Establish “green lanes” for maritime crew repatriation;
  • Protect seafarers and the community through Australia’s adherence to IMO protocols, along with Maritime Labour Convention and International Labour Organisation conventions;
  • Mandate the supply of critical PPE to maritime workers; and

Maintain testing and travel protocols specifically for maritime workers to expedite safe interstate travel.

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