|Issue No 76||03 November 2000|
Toxic Foreign Flag Ship Threatens Reef
By Zoe Reynolds
The MUA is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the grounding of a Malaysian container ship BungaTeratai Satu on the Great Barrier Reef.
Union concerns over deregulation of the shipping industry have been borne out this week with the grounding of the vessel which is laden with toxic chemicals and 1,200 tonnes of fuel. The Bunga, which held a permit to carry domestic cargo, has been subject to five port inspections, the last in Port Botany in August this year when it was detained.
"This outrageous threat to our world heritage barrier reef is a direct result of the Coalition Government policy of allowing foreign flag ships to take over our domestic trade," said Deputy National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. "The Bunga Teratai Satu is just one of the new recruits to the Federal Government's shonky fleet. They've got these poorly regulated vessels with badly trained crew undercutting Australian ships in what are effectively tax avoidance schemes getting direct sponsorship from Transport Minister John Anderson and his Canberra mates."
Cabotage laws restrict Australia's domestic trade to Australian flag shipping except where no suitable Australian ship is available, But shippers and freight forwarders, lured by cheap rates afforded by foreign ships employing third world, often poorly trained, and exploited crew finding loopholes in the act to avoid using the national flag.
Port state control (The Australian Maritime Safety Authority) does spot checks on ships, but inspectors are not always able to ensure all ships are seaworthy before sailing in a brief few hours.
In recent years AMSA has seen a winding back of it's funding under current Government policies and a number of senior management people have left disillusioned by Government intervention.
The Bunga Teratai Satu was last inspected by AMSA in Port Botany, on August 8, 2000. The inspector noted officers were not able to demonstrate operation of radio equipment, engine room ventilation fire dampers were defective and the means of lifeboat recovery inoperative. The scrutiny the vessel has been put under in recent years demonstrates AMSA's serious concerns and yet on August 3, just five days before the ship was detained, and after numerous inspections detecting defects, John Anderson awarded a licence for the ship to the carry of Australian domestic cargo for 12 months.
"The MUA is calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the circumstances around the awarding of this Permit. It's almost as if this government gave this ship the license to pollute and endanger our waterways because of their determination to destroy the Australian shipping industry. Our ships can't compete with these vessels because we maintain safety and training standards second to none in the world. We hold John Anderson responsible for any damage coming out of this. Only two months ago the minister was smugly boasting about his victory in the Federal Court against MUA efforts to prohibit the use of these types of vessels in the Australian domestic shipping industry" Mr Crumlin said.
Shipping paper Lloyds List/Daily Commercial News reports that AMSA has subjected the Bunga Teratai Satu to five inspections in the past two years, detaining the vessel once. The vessel was six miles off course when it ploughed into the reef. It had a permit to carry Australian cargo between Sydney, Bell Bay or Burnie and Fremantle. Minister for Transport John Anderson told DCN that the government could only withdraw its permit to trade on the coast by giving six months notice.
Interview: Withering On The Vine
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US Election: George W. Bushwhacked by Texas Truth Squad
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History: Federation and the Labour Movement
National celebrations will mark the Centenary of Federation next year. The labour movement's opposition to Federation at the referenda held around the Australian colonies in 1899 will attract less commemoration, although the republicans of 1999 might have benefited from reflection on the causes of working class discontent one hundred years earlier says Stuart Macintyre.
International: Unions Mac Their Day
McDonald's - the biggest employer of young people around the world - is increasingly becoming the target of union recognition campaigns, backed by human rights groups concerned about the fast food chains practices in countries such as Indonesia, China, Russia, Canada and Germany.
Satire: Wiranto’s charity album inspires genocidal maniacs everywhere
Indonesia’s favourite former strongman, General Wiranto, has recently decided to record an album of love songs. Entitled To You My Indonesia, Wiranto’s album has already sold 8,000 copies and is raising money for refugees.
Review: What About the Workers?
A big, gruff bloke in a blue singlet, on strike or just not working, and generally being difficult. That's the trade unionist for you. Barry Cohen's new book What About the Workers? shows this image may have a bit of truth about it, but he would be telling a few good yarns while he was standing about.
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