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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8509


Mr HILL (Bruce) (17:17): I second the motion. I'm pleased that the member for Hindmarsh has moved this motion. It's an important topic. The exploitation of workers in communities around the world by unscrupulous shipping and port operators should be condemned by this parliament. I have a long background in connection with the shipping and waterside workers in the industry from my time 20 years ago representing the suburb of Port Melbourne on Port Phillip council, which is the home of Australia's maritime industry, with a long and proud history for over a century. Through that I came to know and appreciate the dedication and professionalism of generations of waterside workers in the MUA, the old painters and dockers, and the marine and power engineers more recently.

It's no understatement to say that the destruction of the Australian shipping industry by the Liberal Party is deliberate and calculated—which is a much broader debate. Suffice it to say the government have, in their courage and wisdom, fielded no speakers on this motion! A recent report released by the International Transport Workers' Federation into the operations of one such company should appal any reader. I went to the launch of the report, I read it and I was moved to speak on the motion.

The International Container Terminal Services company, a name which is surely designed to be forgotten, is renowned throughout the maritime industry as a company that exploits its workers and local communities. It preferences company profits over worker safety and fundamental rights. It uses harassment and coercion to manage its workforce. It pays poverty wages and underpays its employees, who are often overworked. It uses violence and intimidation to stamp out union activity and profits from partnerships with corrupt regimes implicated in crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. This company operates 29 ports across 18 countries and looks set to continue to expand its exploitative antiworker business model across the world. It holds contracts with some of the world's most brutal regimes and has only ended contracts with them when it became commercially unrealistic to continue operations.

Shockingly, this company now operates right here in Australia, care of the Liberal Party. In 2014 the then Victorian Liberal government awarded it a major contract to operate the Port of Melbourne's third container terminal. Dockworkers in Australia report that its local subsidiary has brought its antiworker mentality to Australia. It often attempts to override safety measures in order to achieve productivity targets. Trained safety representatives are not respected, with frequent attempts by management to override safety instructions. There are also reports that workers in Australia have been targeted by this local subsidiary for union activity, and they're now too scared to talk for fear of being fired. They're being intimidated by their employer.

Globally, as the member for Hindmarsh said, this company has close relationships with some of the worst regimes for human rights abuse. For instance, it entered a joint venture with a Democratic Republic of the Congo state owned enterprise under the direct control of the President. The DRC is one of the world's worst kleptocracies and is increasingly being sanctioned by the international community for its use of state sanctioned sexual violence. This company says, 'Let's be friends.' It also partnered with the Assad regime in Syria up until December 2012, well into the country's civil war, which has now seen over half a million people killed and over 5.6 million people flee. It also operates a port out of Honduras. Following the granting of the contract to ICTSI, an intense campaign of worker repression began, including attempts on the life of Mr Victor Crespo, the general secretary of the trade union. Family members of Mr Crespo died in related attacks, and the Honduran military was deployed at the port to quash union activity following job losses. This is the type of business this company practises. I could go on.

In short, it is a global corporate extremist. Its own chairman summed it up, as was stated by the member for Hindmarsh. He said:

I'm very bullish about Iran, Congo and Cambodia. We're taking a very long-term view. We've learned from past experience. It's okay to say that if you make investments in bad places right now, over time, you'll gain without competition.

What a business philosophy! To be clear, it also operates in Sudan. The US labelled the Sudanese government a state sponsor of terrorism. At the time the Liberal government in Victoria signed a contract with this company to come into Australia and run the Port of Melbourne's terminal, the President of Sudan was wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. They still have two warrants for his arrest. If the Victorian Liberals knew all this at the time, why did they contract with the company? If they didn't know, how is it they didn't know, and what went wrong?

Now we hear that this company is going to be seeking deals in other Australian ports. I say to any state and territory government who may be even thinking about awarding contracts to this company: think again. Just say no. Don't do it. This is not a company that Australian governments should be contracting with. Its human rights record and its antiworker attitude speak for themselves. (Time expired)