MIAL Commemorates our Merchant Mariners

MIAL commemorates the role of our merchant mariners

Today, September 3, commemorates Merchant Navy Day.  On this day we reflect on the important role merchant mariners have played during wartime. They’ve often served on merchant navy crews in the face of danger and under challenging circumstances.[1]  

Teresa Lloyd, MIAL CEO says: “As we pause to reflect on the sacrifice of Australian merchant seafarers who have lost their lives in the service of our country, we extend our gratitude to all seafarers working today and acknowledge the vital contribution they are making during this pandemic to keep trade moving and the economy ticking.

Unfortunately, today’s seafarers also face incredibly challenging circumstances, not due to war but due to Governments around the world locking their borders in the fight against COVID-19.

Right now, State Governments across the nation (except Queensland) have turned their back on basic seafarers needs, and not only tolerate but contribute to their mistreatment.  They are currently denying shore leave and have made it incredibly difficult to relieve the workers. These circumstances make it extremely difficult for seafarers to access necessary and urgent medical and dental care on Australian shores – as is their unquestionable right to receive, and our responsibility to provide.

Shipping is critical to Australia and ships rely on their crews to operate.  More must be done by State Governments to facilitate movement of all crew directly to vessels, to allow Australian seafarers to return to their homes at the end of their work-swing and to accommodate international maritime crew entry to Australia in excess of the general aviation passenger cap so that those who have been on board ships for more than 12 months can be relieved in Australia.

There is an unquestionable link between seafarer’s welfare issues and the safety of the shipping that forms a critical part of our supply chain which is currently helping to keep our economy ticking.

Seafarers and their families are suffering right now.  This is the same group of workers who came to the aid of communities around the country during the bushfires that devastated land and air connections with access to fire ravaged communities only possible by sea.  During this time, our commercial fleet and their crews provided: facilities for medical care, much needed diesel to replenish the local fire trucks, food and water.  It is now our turn to look after them, the States must create crew corridors to facilitate crew movements and access to essential care.”

The Australian merchant mariners have a proud history of working together and supporting our nation’s needs. COVID-19 has shown us that as a nation we are exposed – our reliance on foreign shipping and our inability to move people into, and within Australia during such times makes us exceptionally vulnerable.  The case for more Australian content in shipping activity is clear. 

MIAL encourages the Federal Government to recognise and support the Australian maritime industry who demonstrate continued support to the Australian public in times of crisis and offer security to the critical supply chains to this nation.

[1] https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/commemoration/commemoration-days/merchant-navy-day

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