Maritime Union Warns WA’s Maritime Borders Are the Soft Underbelly of Our Quarantine System

Published: 1 Oct 2020

The infection of the crew when sailing the Patricia Oldendorff into Port Hedland is a stark reminder of the risks Western Australia’s Maritime Borders poses to our community.

Across Western Australia’s 17 ports, we have vessels arriving from Coronavirus hotspots with as little as 6 days at sea.

Today in the Port of Fremantle we have the Elizabeth Oldendorff which arrives from Cilacap in Central Java after only 9 days at sea and will berth in Kwinana after only 11 days.

Once berthed the crew of the vessel will work in close proximity to Western Australian port services employees and wharfies to discharge the vessels cargo.

With an unreliable quarantine system and less than 14 days since departing a world coronavirus hotspot, it is vessels like these that present a grave risk to the Western Australian community.

The Government has done the right thing at the Airports and land borders but the neglect of the maritime borders in a state with Australia’s largest coastline is reckless and not acceptable.

Other Australian states including Queensland and Tasmania have taken the sensible approach to the risk by implementing restrictions on vessels arriving before they have served their 14-day period at sea.

If WA doesn’t follow suit, it is only a matter of time before WA’s casual approach to maritime borders leads to a massive outbreak. When this occurs, the McGowan Government must be held to account.

Comments attributed to Chris Cain – National President & State Secretary of the WA Branch

“The WA government has placed its faith in an unreliable quarantine system leading to the infection of 17 seafarers and a near miss for the people of Port Hedland.”

“The Government needs to take immediate action to address the risk presented to the WA community through its maritime borders.”

“Simply relying on seafarers to quarantine at home in an overseas Coronavirus hotspot or asking a Ship’s Master to declare any sick crew members is not enough.”

“The only certainty the people of Western Australia can have in this is the implementation of a strong approach to our maritime borders requiring vessels to remain at sea for at least 14 days before they dock in a Western Australian Port.”

“Make no mistake, continuing to allow ships to arrive from Coronavirus hotspots without any formal quarantine will lead to a massive outbreak. It is only a matter of time before this occurs and when it does, the McGowan government will be held to account.”

“Don’t say we didn’t warn you all.”

Media contact: Christy Cain – 0407 850 084


Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney