State 'could have saved tug boat workers' jobs': MP
MEMBER for Dawson George Christensen believes he has the smoking gun that says the State Government could have prevented the sacking of tug boat workers from Hay Point's BMA operations in 2016.
He claims as Maritime Union of Australia workers protested outside his office during the federal election, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath had the legal advice and draft legislation that could have saved the jobs for the workers.
As it happened the tugboat workers employed by Teekay were replaced and a tender was awarded to Rivtow under a partnership agreement using the Queensland Partnership Act of 1891.
Mr Christensen said it was a clear case of a company exploiting a loophole in Queensland law to avoid employment obligations.
"Now fresh evidence has just been handed to me that shows the Queensland Labor Government was given the solution that could have nipped this issue in the bud and kept those workers in a job,” he said.
On March 31, on behalf of Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, Nicholas Green QC wrote a letter to the state government outlining what needed to be done to close that loophole. "I have formed the view that the best option for AIMPE is to propose an amendment to the Industrial Relations Act 1999,” Mr Green wrote. He then attached a proposed amendment to the act.
"The union was obviously disappointed to see all those workers lose their jobs unnecessarily, especially when the government was handed the solution,” Mr Christensen said.
"By rejecting the solution out of hand, Queensland Labor hung those workers out to dry and it smacks of political opportunism.”
Mr Christensen claims Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath received that information but ignored it.
MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said the union didn't think the Palaszczuk Government had done enough yet but were "working with them at possibly looking at amending the legislation”.
Ms D'Ath said the Partnership Act covered a range of employees including architects, accountants and lawyers, and was not specifically targeted towards port workers.
"Rather than trying to play politics, George Christensen should direct his energy towards lobbying his good friend and leader Malcolm Turnbull to strengthen the Fair Work Act provisions,” she said.