Fisheries (Foreign Fishing Crew) Amendment Bill

KEITH LOCKE (Green): The Green Party will be voting for this stage of the bill, as it has for the previous stages of the bill. The Green Party is against the exploitation of fishing crews—the matter this bill tries to prevent. We have to look at the situation of a lot of these fishing crews, which are made up, as mentioned in the debate, of Russian, Filipino, and other sailors. They are often from countries where people are very poor, and where the men of the family usually go off to sea, often for 6 months at a time away from their families, to keep their families alive. It is a huge sacrifice for them, and it is really adding insult to injury if the ships or companies they are working for go bankrupt, pull swifties, or have some fandangling going on so that the men are left on the shore, as Harry Duynhoven illustrated with an example. They just do not get their money, and they have to go back to their family eventually, when they can get home, with nothing to show for those months away.

So there is a problem that has to be addressed. Some of the responsibility, if these are joint-venture partnerships, goes back to the New Zealand partner in the joint venture. Listening to some of the debate in this and in earlier readings, I cannot myself see why some sort of insurance back-up for some form of bond could not have been arranged. It seems to me a problem in the insurance industry that the Government should seriously look at: whether there needs to be some back-up for the insurance industry in this case.

But we do have a problem with the insurance industry, which some private companies around the country are referring to at the present time. Some of it relates to what, since September 11, is put under the category of terrorism. Someone on television the other night said that it is very difficult to get insurance cover because of the very broad definition of “terrorism” in some insurance contracts. For instance, if a former employee has a snitcher on a former employer, and does some sabotage to that employer, and then claims that it was politically motivated, that act, under the definition of terrorism in these insurance contracts, would be classified as a form of terrorism and would not be covered. The insurance industry is not covering things in the way it should, and that has to be dealt with.

I support what is left in the bill, in terms of providing information to fishing boat crew when they are confronted with problems with their employers. Often, it is a difficult situation because they may be Filipino workers on a boat owned by people of some other nationality. There are language problems and all sorts of other problems, and they find it very difficult. Having that back-up for their rights, and some support on the shore from New Zealand, is very important.

It is useful that the Fishing Industry Guild has offered itself as a back-up organisation, but the unions need to be involved more in this process, too. I know, talking to them, that they are willing to be involved. They are not actually referred to in this bill, but, as other speakers have indicated, there is an international fraternity of seafarers, and they are willing and structured to help each other. They have an International Transport Federation, and have to be seen as part of this process of supporting people in the fishing industry, the workers on the boats.

I support what Graham Kelly has done. I support the select committee’s work. It is a pity the legislation has not come out more strongly—as it could have. But it is a step forward, and the Green Party will support the bill on that basis.


Third Reading Speech in Parliament