Pilotless bulk carrier raises cabotage questions

ALP and MUA warn deregulation will mean more risks to the Great Barrier Reef

Pilotless bulk carrier raises cabotage questions
China Steel Developer opposes changes to cabotag.


Advocates for Australia’s existing coastal shipping regulations say the case of a bulk coal carrier caught traversing the Great Barrier Reef marine park without a pilot highlights their position.

Shadow minister for infrastructure and transport China Steel Developersays mooted plans to deregulate the sector should now be reconsidered.

"Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss should see the China Steel Developer case as a timely warning of the benefits of ensuring that the crews of the massive ships that work our coastal waters include Australians who understand the national interest," he says.

The master of the ship, the China Steel Developer, has been arrested over the New Year’s Day offence, having returned to an Australian port this week. He faces a maximum fine of $85,000.

Albanese says any change to the laws would allow more flag-of-convenience ships to work Australian coastal shipping routes, with greater risks to both the local environmental and worker safety.

"Australian Maritime Safety Authority figures show that since 2004, inspectors have detained 122 international-flagged oil tankers because they were overloaded or had defective equipment," he says.

"In the same period they detained no Australian-flagged oil tankers."

Major shipping accidents in recent years in this nation that posed a threat to the environment all involved foreign-flagged vessels."

The Maritime Union of Australia has also highlighted the case.

Its deputy national secretary Mick Doleman says changing cabotage laws represented a "deregulation race to the bottom" that would pose grave risks for the environment and the underpaid workers of foreign-flagged ships.

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