National Party leader Warren Truss denies the Abbott Government told a ship owner to employ foreign workers.
National Party leader Warren Truss denies the Abbott Government told a ship owner to employ foreign workers. Adam Hourigan

Debate gagged over shipping gaffe

A LABOR frontbencher hit out at an Abbott Government move to gag debate on new shipping laws on Tuesday.

Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese moved a motion to censure Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss for "misleading the House".

On Monday Mr Truss had claimed department staff did not tell a ship owner, North Star Cruises' Bill Milby, that he should sack his local staff and employ foreign workers.

But during a committee hearing on Monday night, departmental staff admitted someone had made the comment in relation to the government's planned shipping laws.

But Mr Albanese's motion failed to get debated after Coalition MPs backed a gag motion to suppress debate.

The Labor motion called on Mr Truss on Tuesday to "immediately correct the record" after his comments on Monday.

But a spokesman for Mr Truss said the department had confirmed, in writing, that "at no stage" was Mr Milby "advised to take any course of action".

"Being apprised of some of the various options available does not constitute advice to take a course of action," he said.

An Australia Institute analysis shows some 1000 domestic shipping jobs could be lost if the laws pass parliament.


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