MARITIME Union national secretary Paddy Crumlin says people are in danger of forgetting the crucial role of sailors in maintaining the Australian economy.
Speaking on the International Day of the Seafarer and in one of his first public statements since the federal election, Mr Crumlin also criticised the federal government for its approach to the sector.
Mr Crumlin said many people failed to realise the significance of the hard work of seafarers.
“Without seafarers, Australia’s economy and society would collapse overnight,” Mr Crumlin said.
“These are the men and women who sacrifice time with family and friends to move Australia’s exports, supplying the country with fuel and commodities, and ensure the overwhelming majority of everyday products are available to the community.
“All too often, the public and even politicians forget that this small band of dedicated seafarers are responsible for keeping our island national operating.”
Mr Crumlin said the International Day of the Seafarer was also a call to action to halt the continued loss of Australian flag vessels under Coalition governments.
“This was highlighted in January when the federal government not only stood by as BHP axed the last two Australian iron ore vessels,” he said.
“Australia can’t have a strong, secure economy if the nation is completely reliant on foreign vessels to provide our fuel, bring in our goods, carry our exports, or move products around the coastline.”
“The people of Australia should pause today, not only in appreciation for the important work of Australian seafarers, but also to consider why we must save and strengthen what remains of Australia’s shipping industry.”