The Guardian 21 February, 2007

MUA sceptical of Liberalís harbour policy

The Maritime Union of Australia views with great scepticism the announcement by NSW opposition leader Peter Debnam in support of a working harbour.

"We have campaigned for a long time for the retention of a working harbour and the opposition has not been seen", said Warren Smith, Acting Branch Secretary. "This looks to me like a last minute election ploy. If a Debnam government were elected and did keep its word it would be a return to the bad days of the Hungry Mile with no job security, holiday pay, leave loadings or all the other conditions we fought for down there over the years."

Mr Smith also noted the harbour plan outlined by the opposition was not well thought out and showed a lack of understanding of maritime and security issues.

"You canít combine a park with wharves", he said. "You canít have children playing near fork lifts, swinging off cranes or near hazardous cargo."

While the union has been critical of the Labor Governmentís policy of abandoning the working harbour, the MUA recognised they have played a positive role in protecting workers from the excesses of the Howard Governmentís IR laws. The opposition wants to force these negative IR laws onto all NSW workers.

"The main focus of the MUA campaign to save the working harbour at this stage is to lobby for the reopening of White Bay and the retention of Glebe Island while supporting the development of infrastructure and job creation in regional ports", he said. "We believe there is still plenty of overflow from Port Botany and Port Jackson to keep all four ports busy."

Back to index page