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Seaman's Union of Australia leaflet in the form of a fifty-five dollar note

Date: 1984
Overall: 87 x 166 mm, 0.001 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Shane Bourke
Object Name: Leaflet
Object No: 00027286
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    Seaman's Union of Australia leaflet in the form of a fifty-five dollar note. The leaflet resembles a 1984 Australian fifty dollar note on one side with an image of Captain Cook at right and the title 'Australian Overseas Fleet' at the top. An image of the vessel ENDEAVOUR appears on the left of the leaflet and a cargo ship of the ANL line named AUSTRALIAN ENDEAVOUR is in the centre. At the base of the leaflet is text reading: `Australian ships carry less than 4% of Australian exports' and below this: `Authorised by Tony Papaconstuntinos, Seamen's Union 289 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW 2000'. In the lower left hand corner is the text: `SUA 1984', and in the upper right corner: `55 dollars represents the share every Australian has in A.N.L.' An inscription in the lower right corner reads `Tony/Alfredo', and the reverse of the leaflet has a depiction of a pirate and the title: `Overseas Shipowner'. To the right of this is a demand to expand Australia's overseas shipping fleet and thus create more work.
    SignificanceThis object is one of a number of striking political leaflets made to resemble Australian currency. This particular leaflet was part of a campaign protesting against foreign shipping carrying Australian exports during the 1984 federal election. The phony currency notes represent the way in which unions promoted their causes and voiced their opinions on various issues.
    HistoryThe history of maritime unionism can be traced to 1872 when the world's first union was formed in Australia. This union, under a variety of names, is the oldest continuing maritime union in the world.

    Currently known as the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), this organisation was formed in 1993 from the amalgamation of several maritime unions. The forerunners to the Maritime Union of Australia include the Sydney Wharf Labourers Union, founded in 1872 and the Seamen's Union in Melbourne the same year.

    The Seamen's Union grew quickly and within four years of forming in Victoria it became an Australian body. Four years later the union was an Australiasian body - encompassing New Zealand in its activities.

    Over the years the union underwent many developments to adapt to changes in maritime labour. The Marine Cooks Bakers and Butchers Association (formed in 1908) merged with the Seamen's Union of Australia (SUA) in 1983 and the Federated Marine Stewards and Pantrymen's Association was absorbed into the SUA in 1988. The Professional Divers' Association also joined the SUA in 1991, shortly before it merged with the Waterside Workers' Federation to establish the MUA.

    In the 1980s the union was focussed mainly on the decline of the Australian shipping industry in an era of new and alternative transport options. During this time there was an increase in foreign shipping carrying Australian exports and the SUA worked to keep Australian flag ships and in turn, Australian jobs. In 1983 the newly elected Labor government recognised that Australia's major shipping operator, the Australia National Line, was in serious financial difficulty and began taking action to restore ANL to a commercially competitive position. The text and imagery on this leaflet directly addresses this moment in the history of the SUA as the union fought to protect Australian jobs by demanding support for Australia's overseas shipping fleet. Rather than taking industrial action, which had the potential to send employers out of business, the maritime union at this point in time worked together with shipowners and politicians to resolve these issues.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: FIFTY-FIVE DOLLAR NOTE

    Web title: Seaman's Union of Australia leaflet in the form of a fifty-five dollar note

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