||Issue No. 214||26 March 2004|
The Security Shift
Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
But Will He Get the Trains To Run On Time?
Uniting For Peace
Terrorism: Workers In Front Line
Maritime workers have questioned whether the Federal government’s changes to shipping laws are undermining the nation’s efforts in the war on terror.
On the same day on which the Maritime Security Bill was introduced to parliament the flag of convenience bulk carrier the Henry Oldendorf, with a compliment of 21 men from seven different nationalities, loaded a coastal cargo of fertiliser from NSW bound for Victoria.
Until very recently this cargo was carried exclusively by Australian flagged and crewed ships.
"While this is by no means an isolated event it serves to demonstrate how the government's assault on the Australian industry opens the gates to terrorist opportunities," says Dean Summers from the International Transport Federation (ITF).
Unions have warned that using flag of convenience shipping on coastal trade at the expense of Australian shipping exposes Australia to a significant terrorist risk.
The ITF has warned that flag of convenience shipping means that in most cases the true owner of the ships can never be traced. Crews made up of mixed nationalities from the poorest nations ensure that they cannot organise among themselves
Many crews on flag of convenience vessels are sourced from developing countries - described by the Federal Government as being a part of "the arc of instability". Fraudulent crew papers are also widespread, making it easy for terrorists to infiltrate ships
"The Howard Government is right to review maritime security but it must consider security in the context of some of its other objectives," says Summers. "It should weigh up whether attacking the Australian shipping industry is worth exposing all Australians to a very real threat of terrorism from foreign shipping into the hearts of our capital cities."
"While our newly enacted Maritime Security Act addresses some important issues there are other federal government transport policies that negate security measures and actually create obvious opportunities to breach national maritime security."
According to the ITF Australian ships and crews for our domestic trade equates to maritime security.
Perth Guards Unguarded
Meanwhile Western Australian rail workers are concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks following the events in Madrid.
Local Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) secretary Bob Christison dismissed claims from the Western Australian Premier's Office that transit guards on Perth's rail system were trained in counter terrorism.
"What that means is that they [the transit guards] have been advised that if they see an unattended package, they are to view it as dangerous and contact the appropriate authorities."
Christison labelled the WA Government's approach as a 'fingers-crossed' strategy.
"They are hoping that nothing happens," says Christison. "They wouldn't have a clue what they're dealing with."
The RTBU is calling for security on the Perth rail system to be beefed up across the board.
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