News

Foreign ships risk our reef, beaches

MAJOR INCIDENT: The Shen Neng 1 and the beginnings of an oil spill.
MAJOR INCIDENT: The Shen Neng 1 and the beginnings of an oil spill. CONTRIBUTED

QUEENSLAND beaches could be put at a higher risk of oil spills if more foreign ships are allowed to operate within Australian waters.

A controversial plan from Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss would allow foreign-owned and operated ships to transport freight between Australian ports, a task mostly restricted to local ships at the moment.

Since 2001, five of the six major oil pollution incidents in Australian waters have occurred off the Queensland coast.

Each involved a foreign-flagged ship.

Among those was the Shen Neng 1 that ran aground on the Douglas Shoal on the Great Barrier Reef off Great Keppel Island in 2010.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the ship's chief mate had slept just 2.5 hours in the 38.5 hours before the disaster.

The year before the Shen Neng incident, the Pacific Adventurer ran aground off Cape Moreton in south-east Queensland, dropping 270 tonnes of heavy fuel and 31 containers into the ocean.

The fuel washed up along 56km of beaches, including parts of the Sunshine Coast and on Bribie and Moreton islands.

The use of foreign-flagged ships is under scrutiny from a Senate inquiry following the suspicious deaths of two men aboard the Sage Sagittarius in 2012.

Under the government's proposal, foreign crews could avoid working to Australian laws, lowering the cost of transporting freight nationally.

The government believes if shipping is made more competitive, the industry could boost productivity and the economy.

Mr Truss's office declined to answer specific questions about the impact of the reforms until after the release of the inquiry's report, due next week.

In mid-2015 while pushing the maritime changes, Mr Truss told Federal Parliament it was more expensive to ship sugar from Thailand to Australia than to ship it between Australian ports.

In a submission to the inquiry, the Department of Border Protection warned foreign ships may not follow international laws, and may rely on smaller crews.

These factors "contribute to a heightened risk to the environment", the department found, "potentially leading to a compromise to biosecurity, for example through poor ballast water management or by causing maritime pollution".

International Transport Workers Federation coordinator Dean Summers said foreign crews may also be less likely to respect the environment.

"If you're an Australian seafarer travelling around the Australian coast, the last thing you would do is pollute the waters," he said.

"But a Burmese seafarer who fears for his livelihood and his life - the last thing he's going to care about is complaining about the captain and the engineer who are trying to save money."

Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said the reforms were "against Australia's economic, environmental, strategic and national security interests".

The Senate voted down the proposals on November 26.

Mr Truss said the Federal Government remains committed to the changes.

Topics:  australian transport safety bureau, beach, editors picks, great barrier reef, great keppel island, ocean pollution, oil spill, water pollution



Did Gladstone meteor cause Queensland earthquake?

EARTHQUAKE in Queensland may have been caused by Gladstone meteor.

WATCH: Burning object crashes near Gladstone, lights up sky

A meteorite may have been spotted crashing to earth this evening.

SPECULATION rife that a meteorite is soaring across Gladstone's sky.

'Foolish': Gladstone drink driver crashes mate's car into pole

FOOLISH DECISION: Sam Kurtin.

Cops follow oil home when teen crashes mate's Holden into power pole

Local Partners

Emily Blunt's (almost) singing career

Emily Blunt nearly became the British Britney Spears.

Angelina is blocking calls from Brad Pritt

Angelina Jolie has reportedly blocked Brad Pitt's number.

Apocalyptica 'seek and destroy' sceptics with 'master' set

Apocalyptica play Max Watts in Brisbane on their Shadowmaker Tour.

Review of final show of Apocalyptica's tour

Rebecca Hall doesn't own a TV

Newspapers, yes. Television, not so much

Jaime King 'terrified' by son's heart surgery

Jamie King was "terrified" when her son went in for heart surgery.

John Mayer's advice for Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes has revealed John Mayer gave him advice

'Flex muscles': Gladstone suburb drops $120K

BUYERS are scooping unprecedented deals by “flexing their muscles at the table”

Few bright lights for property after mining downturn

The Gladstone Regional Council wants associated LNG companies like Bechtel to be apart of the EIS housing accommodation strategy from the outset of the projects and not mid-way through.

Tannum Sands continues to write its own property success story

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Market opens as Gladstone sellers drop prices to force sale

VENDORS are dropping the price on houses to force a sale.

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual