State agencies are continuing to work closely with Commonwealth and welfare agencies to assist the crew of a coal ship, detained off Gladstone, who are caught up in a dispute over wages, conditions and fuel supplies. The Honourable Mark Bailey (Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports, and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply) said ensuring the welfare of local and visiting seafarers is the right thing to do.
"I commend Gladstone Ports Corporation for their prompt response to provide support and assistance to ensure the welfare of the crew of the bulk carrier, Five Stars Fujian," Mr Bailey said. "Maritime Safety Queensland is also closely monitoring the ship through its Gladstone Vessel Traffic Service and its close working relationship with Australian Maritime Safety Authority."
The Hong Kong flagged ship is being detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) due to breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention relating to lack of food supplies and unpaid crew wages. The vessel was loaded at the Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay in Queensland.
Mr Bailey said Gladstone Ports Corporation provided a launch for Australian Maritime Safety Authority officers to inspect the vessel and deliver some food last Friday. "The port has also organised for the pilot transfer helicopter to provide interim food supplies to the vessel yesterday while AMSA secures a charter vessel to transport more significant amounts of additional food to the vessel's crew," he said. "Gladstone Port Corporation will continue to work together with AMSA, Maritime Safety Queensland, the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers and other relevant authorities and organisations to provide support and assistance wherever it can to ensure the welfare of the crew."
Mr Bailey condemned the heartless and inhumane disregard for the welfare of crew members by the ship owners. "No seafarer should be abandoned by the employer on the other side of the globe, let alone be left without basic provisions. It's shameful and disrespectful behaviour," he said.
Mr Bailey commended AMSA on the timely and thorough manner in which the situation was being managed. He also recognised International Transport Workers Federation for providing valuable input and support protecting the interests of the seafarers.
Mr Bailey said the Gladstone Port Welfare Committee process, which was established last year to develop a collaborative approach to providing assistance and support to seafarers visiting the Port of Gladstone, has worked well in effectively managing the situation.
The Gladstone Port Welfare Committee (PWC) was the first welfare board to be formed, in accordance with MLC 2006, as part of the ISWAN International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) pilot project in 2015/16. The IPWP pilot project will expand to become a 3 year programme with effect from January 2017. Ports interested in joining the programme should submit an ‘expression of interest’ via the ‘Contact Us’ webpage https://www.portwelfare.org/contact-us--.html