Last night I was watching some of The Project and as I listened to the Maritime Union guy answering questions about ‘what can be done with the cruise ships?’ … having worked on board for 6 years, I feel a strong desire to share my opinion on this situation.
It’s occurred to me that 3 groups of people are in need of Australia’s care right now.
1. Crew members on cruise ships
2. Casual staff (employed less than 12 months)
3. Comedians (and other Arts Industry employees)
If I was to address the Australian government at this time – my thoughts are these …
As an ex-crew member I have to call BULLSHIT! … You may not know this, but cruise ships don’t have an official ‘home port’ … they are registered in duty free countries like The Bahamas, but this is not where the ships ‘live’. There is no where to send the ships to. It’s upsetting to see the NSW Premier saying ‘I just want them to go away!’. The Australian government is very happy to have all these ships using our ports as ‘home’ because the benefit to the Australian economy is massive. That’s why we have so many ships in our waters right now. The truth is, these ships (and their unwitting crew) are in distress and they are seeking refuge, in their previously welcoming home ports. If we can take 1000’s of people off airlines and quarantine them in hotels, after they come home from overseas, why we can’t do the same for the ship’s crew? If a ship was sinking the Australian Coast Guard (and government) would have an obligation to save the people on board. The same rule applied here. Taking all proper precautions (of course). And finally, how about the fact that cruise ship companies have come to the aid of lots of people in distress in the past, including the providing accommodation for hurricane victims and most recently rescuing our bush fire victims. Remember that? It was only a few weeks ago.
In regards to casual staff … I am a casual employee (usually during the summer months on Phillip Island) and have had 3 casual jobs, as well as my small business operating for this past 6 months. A lot of people, including me are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment, because I haven’t worked for my employers for 12 months or more. I’d like to note that a lot of businesses will not hesitate to call in casuals at the last minute to help with a busy day, cover a sick permanent staff member or unload a pallet of unexpected stock. Those business owners would like to support ALL of their employees, but a lot of them can’t right now. I understand that a line must be drawn somewhere, but it would be nice if the employers had the power to say “I want to keep these hard working and flexible employees” and be supported in doing that by the government. (As a side note: I’m very lucky (and grateful) and two of my employers are giving me some money each week, as a gesture of good faith. I really appreciate it and will be loyal to them through this time.)
Finally, what can I say about the comedians, entertainers, musicians and art industry employees … well they are ALWAYS there for us. Just weeks ago they were donating their time for bush fire relief concerts (Fire Fight) and they do it ALL the time! They do huge comedy charity nights like the Oxfam Comedy Gala; they go to war zones and entertain the troupes; and now they are entertaining us online to help us stay sane … our mental health depends on lightening and dissolving our stress. These people are mostly not casual employees – they are probably sub-contracted or commissioned for work. They deserve to be taken care of too.
I will say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the the Liberal government’s packages, so far.
These are highly unusual and unsettling times.
I just wanted to say a sincere ‘Thank you’ for what has already been done.
And as we move forward together, I hope to see that everyone is supported and taken care of.
Stay at home, be healthy and safe my friends.