Ship of Shame Behind Oil Spill

Newcastle oil spill further evidence that Australian shipping needs revitalising.

The MUA today warned that the latest oil spill in Newcastle Harbour on Tuesday (24 August) was further proof that urgent and positive moves must be taken to revitalise Australian shipping before another disasters occurs.  

"Here we have another case of a Flag of Convenience ship involved in an oil spill that is damaging our precious marine environment," said MUA National Secretary and President of the International Transport Workers' Federation Paddy Crumlin.

"The Magdalene was registered in Liberia and its' crew was operating under inferior conditions and grossly underpaid to undertake a highly skilled and demanding job.

"Liberia is a notorious not only for its blood diamonds but the dodgy flag of convenience ships it registers every year.

The International Transport Workers' Federation long warned of blood on the flag Liberia's flag of convenience with the government using ship registration revenue earner to finance the war in Sierra Leone.  LIberia was again in the spotlight recently over revelations that supermodel Naomi Campbell had received 'blood diamonds' from the former dictator Charles Taylor.

This incident also is a stark reminder of when the Pasha Bulka, a Panama flag of convenience, grounded off the Nobby's beach in 2007 and caused huge disruption in Newcastle.

"It demonstrates that we haven't learnt the lessons from that incident in 2008 and is a reminder that the deregulation of shipping through the Howard Government's years has weakened our control of our shipping task", said Mr Crumlin.  

 Foreign ships have been responsible for all the recent shipping environmental accidents including when the Hong Kong flagged Pacific Adventurer spread oil onto pristine Queensland beaches last year.

The statistics tell the story. Of the 10 major oil spills involving bluewater vessels since the Panamanian registered Kirki spilt 17,280 tonnes of oil off West Australia in 1990, nearly all have been foreign registered. 

Foreign ships now carry 99 per cent of our international trade and 30 per cent of our domestic coastal trade.

"During the recent election the Gillard Government released a shipping policy that will start to fix this major problem and increase the number of Australian crewed and flagged ships", said Mr Crumlin.

"We need an industry that ensures safety is a priority and not an industry with foreign ships that are dilapidated, carrying crews that are being paid a pittance and are environmental disasters waiting to happen.  

"Australian registered vessels operating on the coastal trade now number less than 40 and it's estimated another 8 ships could disappear over the next 2 or 3 years", said Mr Crumlin.

ZOOM in on Newcastle Harbour