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Howard Government anti-Australian shipping strategy: Anderson lets foreign shippers breach coastal permits.



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7 March 2002

HOWARD GOVERNMENT ANTI-AUSTRALIAN SHIPPING STRATEGY

Anderson Lets Foreign Shippers Breach Coastal Permits

The Howard Government’s coastal shipping permit system for foreign ships is crafted to kill off the Australian shipping industry, with no regard to Australian jobs, our marine environment or our national security and defence, Shadow Minister for Transport Martin Ferguson said today.

Mr Ferguson was speaking in Brisbane where he will visit the Australian crew on board the CSL Yarra, who are in danger of losing their jobs to foreign crews under the Howard Government’s shipping strategy.

Under this anti-Australian shipping strategy, the CSL Yarra will be re-registered under a ‘flag of convenience’ in somewhere like the Bahamas, then come straight back to work on our coast on a Howard Government coastal permit. This will allow the vessel to enter our interstate transport network using cheap foreign crews, with minimal immigration, security or compliance checking.

This is exactly what has happened with the Yarra’s sister ship the CSL Pacific.

In the past week it has become clear that the Howard Government does not give a damn if the CSL Pacific and other foreign ships breach the basic conditions on their coastal permits.

In an astounding admission, the office of the Minister for Transport confirmed that the Minister has no power to immediately revoke a foreign shipper’s permit to operate on the coast.

Labor had called on the Minister to immediately revoke the permit of the CSL Pacific if it was found to be in breach of its coastal permit conditions.

One of the conditions that the CSL Pacific’s permit was subject to is:

“That the vessel is not detained under Australia’s PSC program nor under investigation by the ATSB during the currency of this permit.”

Shadow M inister for Regional and Urban Developm ent, Transport and Infrastructure

Martin Ferguson MP

MEDIA RELEASE

On the 26 February 2002, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau confirmed that they were investigating an incident on the CSL Pacific in which a Ukrainian crew member was seriously injured.

The Minister’s office told AAP that the Minister could not revoke the CSL Pacific’s permit as 6 months notice is required and that “... the permit expires on April 2 anyway which is well before the six month period”.

This is a major concession that the coastal permit provisions do not protect Australia’s interests and that the Minister does not care what foreign ships do on the coast.

The Minister is quick to issue these permits - with limited scrutiny of conditions on board, proper security and immigration checks on the crews - but he is loathe to revoke them when breaches are found.

The Minister’s inaction on the CSL Pacific is indicative of the Howard Government’s shipping policy since 1996.

The liberal issue of these permits is destroying the Australian shipping industry and Australian jobs. This policy jeopardises our defence, security and environment and it is time the Minister acted in Australia’s public interest to restore an Australian shipping industry.

It is not fair competition, but active Government intervention to use cheap foreign labour and substandard ships on our coastline to undercut the Australian industry.

The Howard Government is executing a blatantly anti-Australian shipping strategy and will stand condemned until it is fundamentally revised.

Contact: Denise Spinks 02 6277 4752 or 040 222 5965