27
May 2013

BILLS: Marine Engineers Qualifications Bill 2013 Second Reading

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Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (21:08): I would like to thank the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers—in particular, federal secretary, Henning Christiansen; national organiser, Michael Bakhaazi; and Terry Snee, a fellow North Queenslander. I will not go over and repeat what was said by the mover, the eloquent member for Denison.

I represent most of the Great Barrier Reef—more than any other members do. Constantly we have boats whose motors break down or who go adrift, and we get wreckage on the reef; we get damage to marine life; and of course enormous costs on our rescue services in Queensland as well.

A lot of the people on these ships call themselves engineers when they would not qualify as a fitter in any respect in Australia. We strongly urge the government to set in stone three years training. If you have 10, 20 or 30 lives at risk, and there is incredible potential damage to flora and fauna—fauna in this case being marine life—then surely there should be a standard of responsibility. Your captain has navigational qualifications; you need your engineers to have proper serious qualifications. A lot of the vessels coming from the Northern Hemisphere are very substandard.

What we are asking for here is that boats working on the Australian coastline meet a standard where the accreditation takes three years. The entrance examination requirements, if you like, the tests that they have to go through, should ensure that a person who works on that boat can work in safety. That is not the situation at the present moment. The current proposals that have been continuously coming through under successive governments reduce training, engineering and certifications standards. Ultimately that puts safety very much at risk.

The other effect, which is a very minor effect, is to provide jobs for Australians. At the present moment there has been a deliberate lowering of standards so they can bring people in from overseas to undermine our pay and conditions. Even if you agree with that, to put lives at risk so that someone can make a few extra bob every time a boat puts to sea is not a fair exchange and not a fair deal for the wider population of Australia.

So, on behalf of all those people who live in and along the Great Barrier Reef areas of Australia, I very strongly endorse the proposals put forward by the member for Denison in the Marine Engineers Qualifications Bill 2013. We carry a particular investment in the proposals that are coming forward here. I think they provide an excellent model, quite frankly, for other industries, such as the mining industry, as well. We commend this bill to the House.

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