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Luxury expedition cruise company North Star Cruises has alleged it’s been told to replace Australian crew with foreign crew by a senior official with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Company representative Bill Milby said he was advised to “consider taking our ship True North off the Australian Shipping Register, re-register the ship in a suitable foreign country, lay off our Australian crew and hire a cheaper foreign crew”.

The exchange comes off the back of an announcement from Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss that the government would deregulate shipping laws to remove ‘red tape’. This would allow foreign ships to operate in Australian waters without adhering to Australian wage conditions. Mr Milby claims he was told that if North Star Cruises wanted to remain competitive, they would need to make the changes.

True North is the third largest expedition cruise ship in northern Australia, carrying 36 passengers and 22 crew. Two senior Australian crew members would still be required for a foreign registered boat, but with a rotating crew of 40 that would place 38 jobs in jeopardy.

Mr Milby told The Australian that North Star would try to continue with an Australian crew because it aimed to offer tourists a uniquely Australian experience.

What do you think? Would you rather pay more for a cruise with an Australian crew who are employed under Australian labour conditions or have a cheaper fare with a foreign crew? And have you had a fantastic experience with an Australian crew member that you would like to share?