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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
08/02/2016
Estimates
INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO
Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

[22:23]

Senator CONROY: When was the decision of HP Ship Management to remove the ratings and catering crew? When did the event at approximately 1 am on 30 January 2016 come to your attention?

Mr Kinley : I would have to take the exact time and date on notice but it would have been sometime in December. We were advised in December that the company were wishing to amend their safe manning document for the ship in order to change the category of seafarers from integrated ratings to ratings, engine room and deck.

Senator CONROY: Could you explain those different categories again please.

Mr Kinley : Apparently I normally sit here with a dumb look on my head, so I will try to answer your questions—that is Senator Sterle's comment from the last hearings. I will try to answer your questions as best I can.

Senator EDWARDS: I will bring it to his attention in the Hansard; he is not listening.

Mr Kinley : The Portland was manned, as most Australian ships are, with engineer officers, deck officers and integrated ratings. Integrated ratings are ratings that are skilled to work either on deck or in the engine room. It is not a terribly common way to do it in the world, and most of the other ships that we see come to Australia have ratings deck and ratings engine room. That is permitted in Marine Orders, and Australia, in Marines Orders 73 schedule 1, there is the ability to have integrated ratings or to have ratings deck and ratings engine room. The operator of the Portland applied to us, under Marine Orders 21, to have their minimum safe manning document amended to change from having integrated ratings to having ratings deck and ratings engine room.

Around the same time they also indicated to us that they were intending to apply for certificates of recognition for foreign ratings, and indeed they did for ratings of Indian nationality. That is in accordance with Marine Orders 70 division 4; we have an agreement in place with India to recognise their qualifications. We processed those applications as we would for any other application for that sort of matter.

Senator CONROY: So they came—you said you would have to check exactly—in early December, mid-December or late December?

Mr Kinley : The first half of December.

Senator CONROY: Okay. And they clearly indicated to you that they were going to replace the Australian crew with a foreign sourced crew?

Mr Kinley : That was what we understood from why they were applying for those certificates of recognition.

Senator CONROY: Who notified you? Or by what means did that action or proposed action come to your attention?

Mr Kinley : That would have come to us from the company involved.

Senator CONROY: Are we talking the owner of the ship or the company hiring? Was it an Alcoa decision, or was it—

Mr Kinley : The company managing the ship; ASP I think it was in that case.

Senator RICE: Just to follow up on that: is there any notification procedure required when that application to change the ratings for a ship is made?

Mr Kinley : When the application comes to us to amend the minimum safe manning document, there is a section on that form that asks have they 'consulted with relevant stakeholders'—I think that is the term.

Senator RICE: And they had consulted with the relevant stakeholders?

Mr Kinley : According to the form that was submitted to us.

Senator RICE: And who were the relevant stakeholders in this instance?

Mr Kinley : Normally that would be with the crew, officers and engineers on a ship.

Senator RICE: So there is no requirement to consult with the union?

Mr Kinley : Not under our legislation.

Senator CONROY: Upon the action or proposed action coming to your attention, what actions did you take? What were you required to do? What did you do?

Mr Kinley : If we receive an application to amend a minimum safe manning document, we have processes that involve looking at what they are proposing. Does it comply with the IMO guidelines on minimum safe manning, which includes safety issues? Coming back to actual safety issues, the proposal was actually increasing the overall number of crew on the vessel. The crew were intended to meet the STCW and our requirements, so there were no safety issues. The vessel was still intending to sail with Australian officers, deck officers and Australian engineer officers. The deck officers are responsible for safely navigating the ship; the engineer officers are responsible for safely operating the machinery; ratings are there in a support role.

Senator CONROY: Did you have any communication with the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development or any other officer of that department on becoming aware of that action, either before it occurred or afterwards?

Mr Kinley : I know that there would have been a communication at some point. Again, I personally—

Senator CONROY: To whom?

Mr Kinley : I would have to take on notice who, exactly, was notified and when. But, as a matter of courtesy, I am assuming that we would have let them know that this was happening.

Senator CONROY: The Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, or someone within his department?

Mr Kinley : Again, I am sorry. I should just say that I will take that on notice and give you the dates and times of communications.

Senator CONROY: As a matter of courtesy, as you have already put on the Hansard, you would have notified them after you received the request?

Mr Kinley : I am assuming so, but I will have to go and check.

Senator CONROY: Mr Mrdak, did anyone at the table, or anyone that you are aware of, receive a courteous note from AMSA?

Mr Mrdak : Not to my personal recollection, but, again, I will check.

Ms Zielke : Senator, I took on notice earlier to follow up in relation to exchanges that we had at the time.

Senator CONROY: You indicated that, at the time after you became aware of it in the media, you contacted AMSA about some claims. What AMSA are now saying is that they contacted the department, they believe, much earlier than when the actual events took place.

Mr Kinley : I would have to confirm that. That is just my thinking, and I have not confirmed that with any of my staff, so that is my mistake.

Senator CONROY: You are very courteous, Mr Kinley. I am sure your organisation was courteous with the department. So no-one in the department has any recollection of an earlier contact from AMSA on this issue?

Ms Zielke : I am happy to take that on notice and come back. I will confirm what the situation is.

Senator CONROY: Okay. You had no advance notice—

Ms Zielke : I do not recall at this stage.

Senator CONROY: from a communication from AMSA?

Ms Zielke : No.

Senator CONROY: Did you have any communication about this action either before it occurred or afterwards with an officer of any other Commonwealth department or agency or with any Victorian state department or agency? Mr Kinley?

Mr Kinley : I will have to take that on notice.

Senator CONROY: Were you asked at any time before the event to provide any advice to your minister or any other minister, or any adviser to your minister or another minister?

Mr Kinley : No.

Senator CONROY: What process under the section of the Navigation Act regulations or marine orders was used by AMSA to determine that the foreign seafarers engaged by ASP Ship Management—and I appreciate you did run through this before, so I may be asking you to repeat what you have already said—to sail the MV Portland to Singapore on 13 January held valid certificates of proficiency that met the requirements of the minimum safe manning document with the MV Portland issued on 5 November 2004? Or was some other minimum safe manning document used to specify the crewing component for the voyage to Singapore?

Mr Kinley : As I said, the minimum safe manning document was amended, on application by ASP, to change the minimum requirement from integrated ratings to ratings deck and ratings engine room. I would have to check on the numbers, but I believe there were three engine room ratings, three deck ratings, an Indian cook and another assistant there.

Senator CONROY: Is it possible to get a copy of the amended safe manning document? I understand the original one was on 5 November 2004, which was the one that was amended. Is it possible to get a copy for the committee of the amended document?

Mr Kinley : We should be able to. I just have to check the usual privacy issues and what have you, but I cannot see why I cannot give that to you.

Senator CONROY: Can you provide the committee with copies of the International Maritime Organization's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers compliance certificates held by each member of the ratings and catering crew that were engaged to sail the MV Portland to Singapore on 13 January 2016, including details of the vocational institution that provided the training that led to the relevant registry issuing the IMO STCW convention compliance certificates, and the name of the ship registry which issued each of those certificates? I am happy for you to take that one on notice.

Mr Kinley : I can certainly tell you they were certificates issued by the Indian administration in accordance with the STCW convention. I can tell you that we carried out authenticity checks on those certificates, in accordance with the requirements of the marine orders. In fact, the requirements of the Indian administration for ratings training actually exceed the minimum in the STCW Convention. I would have to take advice on whether I can actually give you copies of their certificate, because, again, we run into privacy issues with individuals in naming them. We may have to redact actual names.

Senator CONROY: Yes. To get the details of the vocational institution that provided their training, I am sure redacting that would avoid the privacy issue. Coming back to your earlier answer to, I think, Senator Rice, doesn't the application form that the employer submits for a change to minimum safe manning—that is AMSA's form, I believe—require the company to indicate that they have consulted the unions?

Mr Kinley : The form actually says 'relevant stakeholders', if I am correct.

Senator CONROY: I thought it was indicated earlier in the discussions that one of the relevant stakeholders that were required to be consulted was the unions. I thought that point was made earlier.

Ms Zielke : That is a different piece of legislation. I was referring to the coastal trading legislation.

Senator CONROY: So that does not apply to this legislation?

Mr Kinley : No.

Senator CONROY: If it was necessary for AMSA to issue certificates of recognition to those foreign seafarers to enable them to comply with the requirements of the minimum safe manning certificates for the MV Portland, what evidence was used to satisfy AMSA that certificates held by the foreign seafarers met the standards? You said you did integrity checks. Could you take us through that?

Mr Kinley : First and foremost, under the STCW Convention there is a requirement to have an undertaking with another country if you are going to recognise their certificates. We have such an undertaking in place with India on the basis that we have checked that their process for complying with the STCW Convention meets the IMO requirements, and that includes one of our people actually going over there and auditing their processes. That is in place, and you can see on our website that we have that agreement in place with India.

When the applications are made to us, the applications are in accordance with a form that is specified by AMSA which requests the various bits of information that we need. For ratings, the first and foremost thing that we do is verify that the certificates are actually genuine, so we verify with the administration that there are no fraudulent certificates there. Part of this is also that we have information from India on what training courses they have and how many weeks it is for a rating over there—and in actual fact it exceeds the times required in the STCW.

Senator CONROY: Who do you consider to be a relevant stakeholder for the AMSA form? If the unions are not a requirement, who is?

Mr Kinley : This is a form for the employer. We would normally expect employers to consult with their employees. This is part of the arrangements on a ship.

Senator CONROY: Do you think they consult with their employees before they replace them?

Mr Kinley : Normally I would expect them to.

Senator CONROY: Is AMSA aware that the MV Portland was let go from her moorings, to commence her voyage to Singapore, by security guards?

Mr Kinley : I would have to check. I am not personally aware of that, but, again, that is actually a matter for the port. They would normally say who lets a ship go.

Senator CONROY: Do you have any certificates issued to security guards at Portland?

Mr Kinley : I do not license the people who let a ship go from the wharf side.

Senator CONROY: You do not—or you cannot, because they have not got the right qualifications?

Mr Kinley : It is not part of my remit. There is not an international requirement.

Senator CONROY: So I could wander up and do it, and you would not mind?

Mr Kinley : The port authority may have something to say about that, but it is not part of my remit.

Senator CONROY: Are you aware that none of these security guards had undertaken mooring training and that none held a linesperson certificate?

Mr Kinley : Again, that would be a matter for the Portland Port Authority.

Senator CONROY: But isn't it your job to make sure that people have these certificates before they are allowed to do that?

Mr Kinley : It is my job to see that the crew on board the ship are competent. I do not govern the people who are on the wharf.

Senator CONROY: Would you consider it to be a breach of protocol and an unsafe practice if this were true, that it was the security guards, without qualifications?

Mr Kinley : Again, I do not even know what the qualification is from the perspective of letting a ship go from a wharf.

Senator CONROY: It is a lineperson certificate. You are not familiar with one of those?

Mr Kinley : No. No, I am not.

Senator CONROY: So you are unaware of who authorised your approved, untrained security guards to perform linesperson functions in letting the MV Portland go on 13 January?

Mr Kinley : Again, that would normally be a matter for the port authority.

Senator CONROY: So you do not propose to do anything at all about that?

Mr Kinley : It is outside of my remit.

Senator CONROY: So you have no responsibility if people are not trained to undo the lines?

Mr Kinley : There is most certainly nothing under my legislation that says that.

Senator CONROY: With the department delegate who approved the Alcoa and Pacific Aluminium temporary licence, Mr Sutton gave evidence on earlier today that AMSA has responsibility under its port-state control functions to ensure that foreign seafarers on ships that are the subject of a temporary licence are being paid in accordance with the Fair Work Act and part B of the Seagoing Industry Award. Could you advise how you ensure that compliance and whether there is, in fact, full compliance?

Mr Kinley : In fact, we do not have a legislative compliance to do that role. We have a role to check on wages and conditions under the Maritime Labour Convention. We do have an MOU with the Fair Work Ombudsman so that if we do become aware of any issues under the Fair Work Act we will pass on those matters there. We also pass on any matters that we have come across in the course of our investigations to the department in the coastal-trading area.

Senator CONROY: Given that you do have the authority to find out whether people are complying with the standard or whatever—I cannot quite remember the exact description you used, but you indicated that you do have legal authority and a requirement to do that—did you that in this case?

Mr Kinley : In which case?

Senator CONROY: Of this particular ship—the MV Portland. Did you ensure that they complied with all the things you just outlined that you have responsibility for ensuring they comply with?

Mr Kinley : No, we did not—well, we had no evidence to believe that she did not comply and we had no reason to inspect her before she sailed. In fact, we were not aware, I guess, of the intended timing of any of those issues with crew change. All we had was that they amended their safe manning document. We issued the certificates of recognition for the crew—

Senator CONROY: So you were aware that they were throwing one crew off and putting another crew on but you did not think that you should check to see whether they were being paid the Australian labour law requirements?

Mr Kinley : I had no reason to believe that they were not. In fact, the vessel has arrived in Singapore. It has been inspected for port-state control by the Singaporean authorities. They have found no complaints or issues with the Maritime Labour Convention.

Senator CONROY: Did they check whether Australian labour laws were complied with—the rates that were being paid?

Mr Kinley : The laws of the Maritime Labour Convention apply to that vessel, which are Australian labour laws. They are what they would have checked against.

CHAIR: Let's be practical about this. One of the things that happens when you get up there is that there is often a facilitation fee in the process—get a signature on anything as long just as you bribe the right person. Do you run into that?

Mr Kinley : Up where, Senator—in Singapore? I would say—

CHAIR: Yes—Asia.

Mr Kinley : We have an excellent relationship with Singapore. The Singaporean administration is excellent. Their port-state control standards are very good. I would have to say that the Singaporean public sector service would probably be up there with one of the best in the world.

CHAIR: It would be a fair bit ahead of Malaysia, would it?

Mr Kinley : I am not—

CHAIR: Eight-hundred and sixty million dollars is not a bad personal gift to the Prime Minister—

Mr Kinley : I will just talk about Singapore, Senator. I would certainly have no questions about their standards.

Senator RICE: I will continue on the line of questioning by Senator Conroy. With the Indian seafarers and their ratings, how do the training requirements for those Indian ratings compare with Australian training for Australian seafarers?

Mr Kinley : Having watched the proceedings from the 3 February hearings of the so-called flag of convenience inquiry, much was made about Australian ratings being the most highly trained in the world. I think that was the expression that was thrown around a lot. Australia has chosen to have a training regime for ratings which is about integrated ratings which, probably as a consequence of that, requires a lot more time to be invested in training the ratings; whereas most other places in the world deal with training ratings to be either deck or engine room.

Senator RICE: So what are the training requirements for those Indian ratings?

Mr Kinley : It would be to meet the same competency requirements that are laid down in the STCW convention.

Senator RICE: How long do they train for and over what period of time?

Mr Kinley : I believe that in India the rating required six to eight weeks of training—this is to form part of a navigational watch—and then two months sea service. But to become an able seafarer—deck it was actually 26 weeks and then 14 months sea service.

Senator RICE: Were the Indian crew able seafarer—deck?

Mr Kinley : As far as I am aware, they were ratings—engine and deck ratings—as is permitted under the Australian—

Senator RICE: So it was not the able seafarer—deck; it was the lesser qualification?

Mr Kinley : Again, if I go and check the certificates, some of them may have been able seafarers.

Senator RICE: What other countries do we recognise?

Mr Kinley : We have a whole list of them on our website.

Senator RICE: Could you take that on notice? If you could supply that to us, that would be good.

Mr Kinley : Yes, we can do that.

Senator RICE: Have other Australian ships applied to have their ratings changed in recent times?

Mr Kinley : Not that I am aware of.

Senator RICE: Could you take that on notice too and see whether there have been other ships that have requested that?

Mr Kinley : I am pretty sure I would have been advised if there was, but I will take that on notice. I will go away and double-check.

Senator RICE: I was just about to ask Ms Zielke a question. You stated earlier on today that the first you knew of the foreign seafarers boarding the MV Portland was after it occurred. Were you aware of the application for the change in ratings?

Ms Zielke : I noted with Senator Conroy earlier that I do not believe so, but I took on notice to double-check to see whether others in my team had been aware.

Senator RICE: Aware of the fact that there had been an application to change the ratings? Mr Kinley, you were aware of the change in ratings but did not have any knowledge of the timing of when the seafarers—

Mr Kinley : Not specifically what was being planned, no.

Senator RICE: Thank you.

Senator STERLE: Mr Kinley, just help me out. You have got an application form that the employers submit for a change to minimum safe manning; is that right?

Mr Kinley : Yes.

Senator STERLE: Does it require the company to indicate that they have consulted the unions on your form?

Mr Kinley : There is a check box on the form that says, 'Relevant stakeholders consulted'.

Senator STERLE: So that is a yes?

Mr Kinley : Yes.

Senator STERLE: Great. Did AMSA follow that through?

Mr Kinley : No, because there is a check box on the form that was checked.

Senator RICE: Yes, but you said before that it did not include the union. That was not required.

Mr Kinley : It is actually a—

Senator CONROY: You specifically said, 'No,' when I asked that specific question. You said, 'No.'

Mr Kinley : About the unions?

Senator RICE: Yes.

Mr Kinley : Well, I said I am assuming they did not seeing as the unions are saying they were not consulted.

Senator CONROY: I asked you, 'Were the unions a stakeholder that had to be consulted?' and you said, 'No.'

Mr Kinley : Well, they—I am assuming, in this case—were not consulted, judging by the questions we are being asked now.

Senator STERLE: No. So, anyway, we have established that there is a form.

Senator CONROY: I am sorry. We then had a conversation about whether or not—as it was a business that was applying—your expectation was that they were not required to be considered. I am not trying to catch you out; I am just trying to make sure we have a consistent answer, because Senator Rice and I both heard one answer and Senator Sterle thought he heard a different answer. Just to clarify: it is not a requirement under your act for unions to be consulted?

Mr Kinley : There is not a legal requirement.

Senator CONROY: And you do not consider that unions are, for the purposes of your definition of 'stakeholders', a requirement?

Mr Kinley : There is a check box on the form which says 'relevant stakeholders consulted', which is there so that it reminds employers that they should actually go and talk to their employees when they are changing these matters. It is actually not a legally binding requirement or a legal requirement. It is a check box which is on the form to remind people what they should be doing.

Senator RICE: And they have ticked that box?

Mr Kinley : Yes.

Senator RICE: Despite not having talked to the union or in fact the workers that were affected?

Unidentified speaker: Yes.

Senator RICE: It is misleading at the very least.

Mr Kinley : They may have consulted with the officers and the engineers on board for all I know.

CHAIR: Come on. Get on with it.

Senator STERLE: What exact date did AMSA get details of the date for checks?

Mr Kinley : I will have to check on that date. I will let you know the exact date.

CHAIR: Go home.

Senator STERLE: Hang on, we have an answer here.

Mr Kinley : 21 December was when we got the actual—

Senator STERLE: Thank you.

CHAIR: Go home.

Senator STERLE: That saves you coming back on notice.

Mr Kinley : I will be coming back on 23 February apparently.

Senator STERLE: We will all be revived by then. We will be nice and fresh.

CHAIR: I call the Office of Transport Security—God bless them.

[22:52]

Senator CONROY: Would you agree with the following statement about OTS's role in maritime—

CHAIR: Senator Conroy, can I ask you to talk up a little or talk into the microphone. You are starting to mumble and it is late at night.

Senator CONROY: My apologies. It is late at night. We are all flagging in our enthusiasm for the pursuit of the truth. Mr Wilson, would you agree with the following statement about OTS's role in maritime security?

An efficient, safe, and secure maritime transport system is integral to Australia's social and economic well-being. Our maritime sector aids both travel and trade, connecting us to the rest of the world.

Australia takes a comprehensive approach to help safeguard Australia's maritime transport system from terrorism and acts of unlawful interference. This approach is based on the principle of 'security in depth', meaning the more layers of security, the less chance an attack will occur or be successful.

Mr Wilson : Senator, without actually having the words directly in front of me, I can say that sounds reasonably accurate.

Senator CONROY: I think it is directly from your own website so I would hope you would agree.

Mr Wilson : Sometimes the words can be sort of paraphrased.

Senator CONROY: No, I was trying to be accurate. This is administered by your section under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 and associated regulations?

Mr Wilson : Correct.

Senator CONROY: And your website further states:

The Department is responsible for administering the Act and Regulations, while maritime industry participants are responsible for delivering security on a day-to-day basis.

Mr Wilson : Correct.

Senator CONROY: Various participants in the maritime sector are required to have security plans, including ship operators. Is that right?

Mr Wilson : Correct.

Senator CONROY: Which ships are regulated?

Mr Wilson : Sorry?

Senator CONROY: Which ships are regulated?

Ms Wimmer : We regulate Australian flagged vessels and particularly those engaged in international travel.

Senator CONROY: Only Australian flagged vessels engaged in international travel?

Ms Wimmer : That is right.

Senator CONROY: Further on your website it says:

All security plans must set out, among other things:

measures that need to be in place at different maritime security levels;

the powers and responsibilities of officials, including maritime security guards;

procedures for incident reporting; and

measures to prevent the introduction of weapons and prohibited items.

For the minimum security level MARSEC 1 your website says:

Normal business operations: Minimum protective security measures should be maintained at all times.

What are 'Minimum protective security measures'?

Ms Wimmer : They would be referring to the elements within each individual ship's security plan that are applied that we approve for MARSEC level 1. They would vary from ship to ship, depending on their operations.

Senator CONROY: Is it the case that the MV Portland as a regulated Australian ship is required to have and comply with a ship security plan?

Ms Wimmer : Yes, it would.

Senator CONROY: Is it possible to be exempted from a requirement for a ship security plan?

Ms Wimmer : No, it is not. Sorry, I should qualify that—provided it meets the requirement that it needs to be regulated in the first place.

Senator CONROY: Was MV Portland exempted?

Ms Wimmer : No.

Senator CONROY: So who is responsible for oversight and enforcement of a ship security plan?

Ms Wimmer : The industry itself. The shipowners would be responsible for the ship's security plan. We audit compliance with that ship security plan.

Senator CONROY: And the purpose of the ship security plan?

Ms Wimmer : Is basically to maintain security of the ship. It also makes sure that it complies with international obligations under the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code and also the safety-of-life-at-sea convention.

Senator CONROY: What risks does it seek to manage?

Ms Wimmer : Before each industry participant produces their ship security plan they do a security assessment of their risks, and then their security plan addresses those risks.

Senator CONROY: How are those risks managed by OTS?

Ms Wimmer : We do not actually manage those risks. As I said, we approve the plan that the ship operators come up with, and then we audit compliance with that plan.

Senator CONROY: How do MSIC cards interact with ship security plans?

Ms Wimmer : Ship security plans may establish secure zones on a ship. For instance, they may prevent access to the bridge or other sensitive areas on a vessel. If there are secure zones, in a port for instance, the MSIC applies to those secure zones only. So it is an indirect relationship, I guess. The MSIC regime does not apply just to ships; it obviously applies also to ports.

Senator CONROY: So I think you have confirmed it is a requirement that persons entering security regulated zones on a ship hold an MSIC card?

Ms Wimmer : That is right. But not all ships will have security zones—and neither will ports.

Senator CONROY: What is the purpose of obtaining an MSIC card? What does it do?

Ms Wimmer : An MSIC card is basically a background check. It checks security. It is an assessment by ASIO. It is a criminality check and it may also include an immigration check.

Senator CONROY: That sounds like it involves background checks. By whom? By ASIO?

Ms Wimmer : by ASIO—

Senator CONROY: Police?

Ms Wimmer : The police—that is right. And there may be the requirement to have an immigration check by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Senator CONROY: So, if an Australian ship has a foreign national on board, how do you do that check then? Do you go to the home country? What is the process?

Ms Wimmer : No. As a general rule, foreign nationals do not often have MSICs. If they are needing to enter a secure zone they will have to be escorted by someone who owns an MSIC. If they do need an MSIC, then they have to demonstrate, basically, a need to work and have access to that secure zone.

Senator CONROY: Does the MV Portland have security regulated zones?

Ms Wimmer : From my understanding, it did not.

Senator CONROY: It has none?

Ms Wimmer : No, not at MARSEC 1.

Senator CONROY: Not on the bridge, not anywhere?

Ms Wimmer : No.

Senator CONROY: How long does it usually take on average to have an MSIC card issued, from application to issue?

Ms Wimmer : That is a really hard question to answer. It depends on your background. If you have a complex background, or there is an issue in your background, it may take longer for the assessing agencies to complete the assessment. So it can vary from a number of weeks to months.

Senator CONROY: What circumstances excuse not having an MSIC card in a security regulated zone?

Ms Wimmer : Specifically in the maritime environment?

Senator CONROY: Yes.

Ms Wimmer : I do not think there are any.

Senator CONROY: Direct line of sight; supervision? You said they were being escorted—

Ms Wimmer : You need an MSIC if you are going to be in a security zone—you need unescorted access, basically.

Senator CONROY: That is what I am trying to understand. What are the rules around an escorted situation?

Ms Wimmer : If you are with an MSIC holder you can be escorted in that zone, but you must be with that MSIC holder the entire time. I have just been reminded that, if you are under continuous CCTV surveillance the entire time, you can also be exempted from having a continuous MSIC escort.

Senator CONROY: It is hard to get 100 per cent vision all the time.

Ms Wimmer : I think that is the assessment we make. If there is 100 per cent vision all the time you may be exempted.

Mr Wilson : It would be possible in a situation—

Senator CONROY: Be serious—you would have to have an awful lot of cameras, given the design of ships—

Mr Wilson : where you were escorted into a location that had CCTV. It would be a complex and convoluted way of doing it.

Senator CONROY: I appreciate the point you are making. I am just saying it would be a hard threshold to meet to the satisfaction of 100 per cent. If it was all clear, one big room, you could put in surveillance. If they are moving through a ship, I cannot imagine you would go to the expense of putting up enough cameras to justify doing it.

Mr Wilson : No, that is right.

Senator CONROY: From the sound of it, the new crew of the Portland would not have needed MSIC cards, is that right?

Ms Wimmer : I am not familiar with their circumstances.

Senator CONROY: You said there is no regulated zone on the MSIC.

Mr Wilson : That is correct.

Senator CONROY: Were any senior officers of OTS or the department aware of a plan to board the MV Portland with a foreign crew before it occurred at 1 am on 13 January?

Ms Wimmer : Not from OTS.

Mr Wilson : We are not aware.

CHAIR: Thank you to broadcasting and Hansard, thank you to the secretariat and thank you to the witnesses today.

Committee adjourned at 23:03