CAMPAIGN: Former seafarer Glenn Frew, who has been out of work for 14 months, rallied outside Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd's office ahead of an inquiry into the shipping industry.
CAMPAIGN: Former seafarer Glenn Frew, who has been out of work for 14 months, rallied outside Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd's office ahead of an inquiry into the shipping industry. Tegan Annett

'Lend us a lifeline': Plea for collapsed industry

SEAFARERS say they need a "lifeline" for the industry to have a future in Australia, with the rise of foreign vessels with crews paid $4 an hour.

Former seafarer and Maritime Union of Australia Queensland branch secretary Bob Carnegie told a Queensland Government inquiry into the shipping industry there was a need for new legislation to encourage companies to use Australian vessels.

"Lend us a lifeline so we're not the last generation of merchant seafarers," MrCarnegie said.

"They say we're too expensive but we can't compete with less than $4 an hour ... we want to raise our children with some decency."

The union is calling for the Queensland Government to advocate for reform of Australian coastal shipping legislation to ensure regular shipping between Queensland and other Australian states takes place on Australian ships with decent working conditions.

Among the reforms includes restoring a strengthened Restricted Use Flag to provide economic regulation of foreign ships, so that cabotage applies in Queensland.

It wants common routes, such as the Weipa to Gladstone bauxite route or coastal LPG supply to be quarantined for Australian ships.

Former seafarer of 38 years Glenn Frew sat next to MrCarnegie while they gave evidence to the committee at the first of three hearings for the Inquiry into a Sustainable Queensland Interstate Shipping Industry.

Mr Frew has been unemployed for 14 months and is finding it difficult to find work after spending almost four decades working at sea.

Wearing a shirt which read "Sacked for being Australian" Mr Frew said he blamed multinational companies who use foreign ships, and previous governments for "destroying" the industry.

The Australian shipping industry fleet has dropped from 75 vessels in 1996 to 14 in 2016.