Stena Clyde Tragedy: Continued Govt Inaction

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on August 28, 2015 at 2:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Today is the three year anniversary of the tragedy which cost Peter Meddens and Barry Denholm their lives on the Stena Clyde oil rig in the Bass Strait off the coast of Victoria.


The matter has only just reached the Courts with a hearing taking place in Melbourne yesterday. There is no outcome at this time.


Unions are aghast at the length of time it has taken to reach this point and can’t understand why it has taken so long for the case to reach the courts.


The delays and astounding lack of information by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) must act as an impetus for change; the Federal Government must replace NOPSEMA with an independent and full service regulator.


Delays such as those which occur under NOPSEMA – who lack the power to prosecute - cause great anguish to the family, friends and work mates of the victims.


Furthermore the lack of explanation means the safety issue isn’t dealt with in a timely manner and puts other workers at unacceptable risk.


There are safety standards that cover all other Australian workers under Occupational Health and Safety laws – yet offshore workers are denied these important protections.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick:


“The families, friends and work mates of Peter Meddens and Barry Denholm have been waiting a long time to find out what happened to their loved ones on that terrible day in 2012.”


“We are calling for Federal Government to overhaul NOPSEMA and replace it with a full service regulator who can act quickly to prosecute to ensure the reasons behind an accident are identified without this extraordinary delay.”


“The ACTU is also concerned NOPSEMA is too close to the industry to act as an effective regulator.”


“Without a full and independent investigation into such tragedies we cannot ensure other workers will not be exposed to similar dangers.”


“Offshore safety legislation must be brought into line with national OHS standards – there is no justification for lower standards of protections for offshore workers.”


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High Court To Hear Case Over Abbott???s Royal Visas For Cheap Foreign Workers

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on August 19, 2015 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The High Court today agreed to hear the case involving the Abbott Government’s use of visas for cheap foreign labour in the offshore oil and gas sector that are normally reserved for royal guests and overseas dignitaries.


In a hearing in Sydney, Her Honour Justice Bell accepted the argument that the case is important and therefore should be kept in the High Court.

‘In light of the importance of the matter the court will not be remitting the case to the Federal Court,’ Justice Bell told the hearing.

Thousands of Australian jobs in the offshore oil and gas sector are being threatened by the Federal Government’s sneaky means of issuing Special Purpose Visas to cheap overseas labourers.

Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash has used Ministerial discretion to issue the visas, usually reserved for top dignitaries including the royal family and military attaches.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) have taken the Federal Government to the High Court to challenge the use of the visas.

MUA Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey said Justice Bell had outlined a further directions hearing in Canberra in seven weeks time ahead of a trial anticipated to take place early next year.

“A similar case has already been heard by the full Federal Court and the MUA thinks the High Court is the appropriate jurisdiction,” Mr Tracey said.

“Justice Bell’s acceptance of the MUA’s argument for the case to be heard in the High Court is an important first step.

“The Abbott Government has already been defeated in the Senate and the full Federal Court and it simply beggars belief that they continue to try to deny Australian workers the capacity to work in their own country.

“These Special Purpose Visas have always been NON-WORK visas simply for visiting dignitaries.

“To use them in this underhand way as work visas in the offshore oil and gas industry again displays the Abbott Government’s contempt for hardworking Australians doing the heavy lifting in the country’s lucrative resources sector.

“Yet these hugely profitable companies are looking to import cheap workers, who don’t have to pay tax in Australia and with no security checks or Australian-approved skill sets.”

The Abbott Government has taken four significant steps to undermine Australian participation in offshore oil and gas projects. It has:

• Introduced a Bill to repeal the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (ORA ACT) that was passed by the Parliament in 2013 to address a flaw in Australia's migration law. The introduction of the ORA followed a Federal Court judgment in the Allseas case that found certain groups of workers were not within the migration zone and did not require visas to work in Australia.

• Introduced a Regulation under the ORA Act that specified an inappropriate visa class as a work visa to conform with the ORA Act (the Maritime Crew Visa, which is a transit visa for visiting international seafarers, not a work visa). This was disallowed by the Senate;

• Following the disallowance, within 24 hours introduced a Ministerial Determination ('Immi 14/077') effectively making the ORA Act null and void in complete disregard to the wishes of the Parliament. The MUA and AMOU successfully appealed the decision to the Full Court of the Federal Court.

• Following the Full Federal Court decision, within 24 hours introduced another determination (‘Immi 15/073’) to again allow cheap foreign labour in the offshore oil and gas sector. The MUA and AMOU are currently pursuing this in the High Court.

Yet Senator Cash had the temerity this week to say criticism of the Abbott Government was based on personalities.

"You may not like us as individuals, I can accept that. But look at the policies, look at our achievements." Senator Michaelia Cash - Sky News 18/8/2015

“This isn’t about personalities; it’s about rotten policies from the Abbott Government,” Mr Tracey said.

“Unemployment is over 800,000 for the first time in 20 years and rather than address the jobs crisis, Senator Cash wants to sell out Australian jobs on behalf of her mates in big oil and gas companies.

“It’s about time Senator Cash and the Prime Minister stood up for Australian jobs and Australian workers.”


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Free ride ferries to cost $6 million

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on July 1, 2012 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Some of Brisbane's single hull inner-city ferries will be renamed 'City Hoppers' and run free of charge from July 1, yesterday's Brisbane City Council budget revealed. Lord mayor Graham Quirk, who flagged the program during the April election campaign, said the City Hoppers were geared towards tourist visiting Brisbane.

"That's the three mono-hull ferries that will run up and down the river and I think it will be a welcome addition to the city," he said. "Again it will show we are a friendly city to tourists." The 2012-13 budget allocated $200,000, which would largely let the three ferries be painted red and re-branded as City Hopper services.

Overall the move will cost the council $6 million over four years from its $34.7 million budget for ferry operating costs.

Other public transport announcements in the budget included a new CityCat terminal at Milton ($5 million over four years) and a new "Maroon" CityGlider ($9 million over four years), linking Paddington and Stones Corner. The council has also set aside $1.4 million for its proposed cross-river bus link to tackle congestion on the Victoria Bridge. In December 2011, Cr Quirk put forward an option for a "Suburbs 2 City" bus link after highlighted major problems with buses banking up over the Victoria Bridge.

Cr Quirk in December proposed a 3.6 kilometre bus-only link between South Bank and Fortitude Valley, comprising two sections; a new bus-only link from Melbourne Street across the river to Adelaide Street. It would run over the Riverside Expressway, under Adelaide Street, link to the existing busway network and come back to the on-street level at the intersection of Wickham and Ann Streets. The feasibility study will take about 18 months to complete. Funding will be requested from state and federal governments once a proposal concept firms. Source : Brisbane Times

Australia: Committee recommends shipping reforms

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on June 18, 2012 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Labor's shipping reforms. The committee, which examined a suite of bills aimed at revitalising Australia's shipping industry, said a proposed review in five years' time was insufficient. Instead, it said a monitoring unit should be set up within the Productivity Commission, the federal transport department, or the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. "The unit should report regularly, at a minimum annually, to government," the committee said in its report released on Friday. However, it also said the package of bills, which have already passed the lower house, should be approved by the Senate. Coalition senators on the committee published a dissenting report, saying the bills shouldn't be passed. They believe industry concerns have not been adequately addressed and the changes will not stem the decline of Australian shipping. Source: AAP

SMIT Strike in Gladstone

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on June 18, 2012 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Workers for SMIT Marine Australia, which provides pilot and towing services to coal ships at Gladstone port in Australia, have voted in favor of industrial action, though unions have yet to notify the company of any pending strikes, a spokesman for SMIT Marine said Friday.

The maritime services company has been in talks with its employees who belong to three trades unions representing ships' masters, engineers and general maritime workers over the details of a new collective workplace agreement since October last year. "At this stage, we are still in negotiations with the unions. We cannot say anything about the process and at this stage we have not received any notification of industrial action," SMIT Marine Australia general manager, Frederik Rutgers said Friday.

SMIT Marine provides a range of maritime services at Gladstone port including tugs for towing vessels into port to load coal exports, according to Rutgers.

The three unions are understood to have lodged a claim with SMIT Marine for a 37.5% pay rise for the company's tug masters and engineers followed by an annual pay increase of 8%, according to market sources. Members of the three trade unions involved in the dispute, the Australian Maritime Officers' Union representing ships' masters, Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, Maritime Union of Australia voted by a considerable margin for industrial action lasting for up to seven days at a time, according to the website of Fair Work Australia. SMIT employees belonging to the MUA voted by 14 to zero for work stoppages lasting for up to 24 hours, and all four AMOU affiliated employees were in favor of strikes lasting for up to seven days. While AIMPE members voted 11-3 for work stoppages lasting 24 hours and seven days, according to the results of the votes on FWA's website on June 13.

Gladstone Ports Corporation said through a spokeswoman Friday that the port authority had not been advised of any industrial action by employees of SMIT Marine at this point in time. "Our intent would be for Gladstone Ports Corp. to schedule around the action if it arises to minimize any impacts," said the port authority's spokeswoman in an emailed response to questions. Gladstone port ships thermal and coking coal for a number of companies with mines in the Bowen Basin coal field in central Queensland including, BHP Billiton (Blackwater), Cockatoo Coal (Baralaba), Jellinbah Group, Wesfarmers (Curragh), Xstrata (Rolleston) and Yancoal (Yarrabee). The Queensland port loaded 54.6 million mt of coal for export onto 610 vessels in the 11-month period ended May 2012, according to information on GPC's website. Source: Platts

Maersk discontinues Oz-NZ service, opts for slots with MSC-ANL

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on June 1, 2012 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (1)

MAERSK Line will end its Tasman Star Express service and instead buy slots from MSC-ANL's Trans Tasman Service, reports Alphaliner. The MSC-ANL loop links Australia's Sydney and Melbourne to New Zealands' Nelson, Auckland, Tauranga, Lyttelton and Wellington, using three 2,600 to 2,800-TEUers. Maersk's current Tasman Star Express had three 1,100-TEUers and called at Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton, Nelson, Tauranga, Sydney. Source : Schednet

Australian Shipping Reform Passed Today

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on May 31, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (2)

The suite of Bills that represent the Government's Shipping Reform Package have passed the House of Representatives.

Following an impassioned speech in support from Minister Anthony Albanese, and other Labor members Jill Hall, Sharon Grierson, Melissa Parke, Deb O'Neill, Tony Zappia, Richard Marles and Independant Bob Katter, Shipping Reform passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 71 - 69.

As the Minister said in his speech: "When this mob [the Liberals] took over in 1996 we had 55 Australian vessels, now we have less than half. Either we do this today and get it done, or the Australian shipping industry is done. Without reform the Australian shipping industry will disappear "

All of the speakers made mention of the hard work of the MUA - its National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and all the members involved.

The Bills represent over 10 years of work by the MUA, especially National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, and follows the endorsed support from members at the recent Seafarers Conference and National MUA Conference.

A delegation of seafaring members joined National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, National Policy Officer Rod Pickette and National Communications Director Darrin Barnett in Canberra to see the Bills pass (pictured).

Mr Crumlin said this was the biggest reform of the Navigation Act in 100 years.

"What Australia has effectively done is has shown the way in international shipping, demonstrating that FOC shipping can be defeated and that all seafarers - particularly those from developed countires - have a right to work in the industry.

"Cabotage is back on the menu for seafarers worldwide.

"The support of the ITF was also critical to the political will to enact these wide-ranging and internationally important reforms, and the ITF is enshrined in this legislation," said Mr Crumlin.

Over the last month the core team has been working 24-7 to make sure the legislation was complete and presentable, and that there were sufficient votes the lower house.

This was not guaranteed until right before the Bills were passed.

"We knew we had to make sure that Shipping Reform was not just a good piece of legislation, but one that would be passed the Parliament," said Mr Crumlin.

"As a union, we've fended off the campaign by conservative shippers, foreign ship-owners and the federal Opposition to destroy the Act and the industry.

"It's an emotional day. We've been working on this since the election of the Howard Government. They destroyed Government support for the Australian shipping industry in their first weeks in office back in 1996.

"The union generally and myself personally have been at the forefront of the campaign to ensure that shipping and Australian seafarers have a future in this country," said Mr Crumlin.

"It signals the end of the 17 year war and the beginning of a new era of post-war construction.

"The work of Minister Albanese cannot be overstated. As maritime workers have said, he deserves the Order of Elliott Healy (EOH) named after Elliott V. Elliot and Jim Healy, the legendary leaders of the Seaman's Union and Waterside Workers Federation.

"No one has done more to deliver these reforms than Minister Albanese."

Today the MUA congratulates and thanks the Labor Party for delivering for Australian maritime workers.

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard committed to the legislation when she addressed the 2008 National Conference a few weeks after the Rudd Government was elected.
 Today, they have delivered on their promise and have been supported by the Independents and the Greens, without whom this legislation wouldn't have passed.

The Greens and Independents understood the issues and voted for the legislation on its merits - further isolating the intellectual paucity and of the Federal Opposition, ignobly led by Nationals Leader Warren Truss, whose speech in Parliament against the Bill was as fallacious as it was uninspiring. In fact, he spoke against his own Party's policy.

The Labor Party also identified the capacity to secure work opportunities for Pacific and Regional seafarers - a policy commitment that the MUA has had in place for many years. This Bill updates the Navigation Act and puts it in the context of international best practice.

The Reforms will create employment, sustain business opportunities and productivity and build the national interest through an industry that has always been and always will be critical to the quality of Australia's economy, environment and way of life.


Call for Great Barrier Reef shipping review

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)
Australian marine pilots Monday called for a review of how ships pass by the Great Barrier Reef, warning of the risk of a major environmental disaster on the tourist attraction.

Australian Reef Pilots, a firm with a century of experience in the region, raised its concerns after a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier broke down near the reef on Friday and drifted disabled for more than a day before it was secured. The company wants to see shipping routes restricted and the area where vessels must use pilots extended, moves which could prompt strong objections from foreign vessels accustomed to free passage. "This is a second incident in about the last month where we've had a ship drifting outside the Great Barrier Reef but drifting towards it," Australian Reef Pilots chief executive Simon Meyjes told AFP. "The biggest problem there is that they are in very deep water, they can't drop anchor to stop themselves drifting so they either have to fix their own problem or wait for help to come." Meyjes said in the latest incident, involving the 186-metre, 45,000 tonne bulk carrier ID Integrity, it took close to 48 hours for tugs to reach and secure the vessel as it drifted in the Coral Sea. The ship broke down north of the Queensland city of Cairns on Friday en route from Shanghai, and floated completely disabled near the world's biggest coral reef, narrowly missing grounding on the outlying Shark Reef.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority emergency tow vessel Pacific Responder reached the bulk carrier late Sunday to connect a line and was pulling it towards Townsville on Monday. But Meyjes said the potential disaster could have been dealt with more quickly if all ships were forced to travel in the shipping lanes inside the reef, rather than on the outer edge of the coral and towards open sea. "Inside the Great Barrier Reef, they are in shallower and protected waters. They can anchor. And obviously they are much closer to help and the response time is much less," he said. "The risk profile when you're outside the reef and something goes wrong, it's terrible. An oil spill would spread very, very rapidly and you've got a couple of thousands of miles of exposed reef edge." Meyjes also urged that ships have a local pilot on board when they are inside the Great Barrier Reef area. Conservationists have long raised fears about the impact of increased traffic on the Great Barrier Reef as Queensland state's coal and gas boom strengthens. Meyjes added: "There are shipping accidents around the world on a regular basis. I'm not saying that it's inevitable but I am saying that there is certainly risk there that we need to consider." Source : AsiaOne

Jumbo transports MOF caissons for Gorgon project

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Jumbo’s engineers and the crew of HLV JUMBO JUBILEE have successfully transported and discharged fourteen of the twenty-five MOF caissons for the Chevron-operated GORGON PROJECT on Barrow Island, Australia. So far the operation was performed as planned with respect to every detail: safety, environmental conservation, transportation, mooring and tidal discharging.

Diverse employability

The contract for the transport and discharge of the MOF caissons was awarded to Jumbo by DB Schenker, on behalf of the Saipem Leighton Consortium. Jumbo’s in-house engineering knowledge and the diverse employability of the JUMBO JUBILEE makes clear why Jumbo got the job. The heavy lift vessel has a unique deck lay out, enormous hold capacity and is allowed to sail with open hatches. This makes it possible to make optimum use of the capacity and transport seven MOF caissons at once while maintaining a minimum ship draught.

Scope of work

In four shipments the JUMBO JUBILEE will transport the total of 25 caissons from Port Klang, Malaysia to Barrow Island, Australia. The caissons, weighing from 600t up to 700t (D: 12.5 and H: 16.8 meter), will be lifted from a barge and placed in the hold of the vessel for transport. At Barrow Island Jumbo will use anchor points and mooring lines to keep the vessel in position while discharging the caissons. The caissons form the base of the future Material Offloading Facility.

Environmental compliance

Barrow Island is a ‘Class A Nature Reserve’. Jumbo developed and implemented a strict quarantine compliance plan, including an extensive familiarization and environmental training program. The captain and crew of the JUMBO JUBILEE received a certificate of appreciation for their vigilance in ensuring the ongoing compliance of the vessel with Gorgon Quarantine requirements.


The JUMBO JUBILEE will make two more voyages from Port Klang to Barrow Island transporting the MOF caissons. By performing on schedule, Jumbo supports the project meeting its critical path requirements in the development of the Barrow Island Heavy Lift Facility. Demobilization of the JUMBO JUBILEE is planned in July 2012.

The Gorgon Project

The Gorgon Project is one of the world's largest natural gas projects and the largest single-resource project in Australia's history. It is operated by Chevron and is a joint venture of the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron (approximately 47%), ExxonMobil (25%), Shell (25%), Osaka Gas (1.25%), Tokyo Gas (1%) and Chubu Electric Power (0.417%).

Queensland's historic Steam Tug under threat of being scrapped!

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The future for coal burning steamships in Australia looks doomed. The Queensland Maritime Museum Association’s historic coal fired steam tug FORCEFUL’s future looks just as uncertain as its larger coal fired cousins the SS RIVER EMBLEY and SS RIVER BOYNE that are due to retire from service in the next few weeks and the SS ENDEAVOUR RIVER and SS FITZROY RIVER that departed the Queensland coast in the last couple of years for the scrap yard. The following is a statement on “The Friends of Forceful” Facebook site. “I am sad to say that as a result of what has recently come to light S.S FORCEFUL sadly is at imminent risk of being scrapped!!! and no I'm not joking. A leak at the ship's stern has been discovered and as a result all non essential maintenance has been ordered to stop.

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) has given till the 10th of June to have Forceful out of the water and the problem rectified or the tug will be condemned. As it stands at the moment with the Queensland Maritime Museum, any funds to facilitate such a repair is not possible. If she was to be repaired the Queensland Maritime Museum would collapse, to prepare her for scrapping or scuttling it would also send the Queensland Maritime Museum broke as the Queensland Maritime Museum is in no financial position to do any of the above. Keeping a steamboat such as Forceful is no cheap thing, but she is by no means beyond repair. We just lack the funds. Forceful has precious little time and its running out!

Not only is she one of the last of her kind, she is also the last ship to operate out of all the Australian ships the Australian Navy used in world war two, she is also one of the last coal burning steamers left in the world, the last of a long list of ships built by Alexander Stephen & Sons shipyard since the 1780's: Forceful is the last one left. Furthermore the last steamer to have been in commercial service on the Brisbane River. As it stands at the moment the only way people will be able to see Forceful soon is with photographs, film and video footage. Some things are just to precious to lose and much that should have been saved for posterity was not. S.S Forceful is in imminent danger of being just another piece of our history to be lost. Do we want to see Forceful consigned to history and lost forever? or do we want to see her sailing with a full head of steam into the future and apart of the future, for our children and our children's children. For the Friends of Forceful we will fight by whatever means we can to save this precious piece of history, until the end. The gloves are off, Forceful has just entered her 11th hour and we need help urgently. It isn't over till it is over, but anything that is worth doing has always been and always will be hard to do. In closing I have proposed a motto for the Forceful should she survive: NEVER SAY DIE!”

The Friends of Forceful raised funds to help have doublers welded over the thinnest of the hull plaiting, this work being carried out in December 2011. To save her from being condemned by MSQ it looks as though she needs to be removed from the water and more doublers welded to her hull as a temporary repair until the required funds can be raised to re plate her hull properly. Forceful has been a permanent fixture in Brisbane for most of her life, built in Glasgow Scotland in 1925 by Alexander Stephen and son. Forceful spent most of her working life in the port of Brisbane and was even pressed into Navy service as HMAS Forceful during the Second World War, where she spent most of her time between Fremantle and Darwin before being returned to her owners in Brisbane. Forceful was also involved in the salvage of many stricken merchant vessels under extreme weather conditions.

After her retirement from harbor towage and ocean salvage Forceful was acquired in 1971 By the newly formed Queensland Maritime Museum Association and formed the back bone of the museums collection. Since then Forceful has been up until a few years ago a regular sight on the Brisbane River taking many tourists and steam buffs alike on short cruises down the river out into Moreton Bay, even as far as Redcliffe to see off the participants in the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race. Forceful even whetted steam enthusiasts appetite for all things steam when Qmma in conjunction with Sun steam conducted the ultimate steam tour, steam train ride from Southbank station to Pinkenbar Then steam tug river cruise back to South Brisbane Dock or visa versa. Movie buffs will also have noticed that Forceful made a cameo appearance in the 1989 Movie The Delinquents staring a young Kylie Minouge. Unfortunately however the costs in maintaining her hull became to costly for the Museum after it was reviled during a scheduled slipping that some of her hull plates had become under the 6mm thickness tolerance and for safety reasons Forceful was laid up. It is a shame that such a historic Merchant vessel with wartime Navy service is about to be lost forever!

Unless funds can be raised to bring Forceful back into a condition that will prevent MSQ from condemning her in the short future. And in the long run funds to bring her back into survey/ serviceable condition so she may one day be seen heading down the river under her own steam for all of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and the rest of the world who chose the visit this great state to enjoy now and for the future. There are very few Merchant vessels of any kind that have been put into preservation by Maritime Museums In Australia. Forceful is a good representation of all the equipment and systems used in her larger merchant navel cousins. Forceful’s two scotch type boilers are very similar to the scotch type boilers used in merchant vessels such as the RMS Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic and Britannic. Foreful’s triple expansion steam engine is the same type of engine that powered nearly all shipping during the steam age. Forceful allows people to see what life on board a merchant ship of the day would have been like, when she was steaming she allowed her passengers to feel, smell and touch and witness the full experience of what it took to take a steamship to sea back in the day. We are about to loose this forever unless funds can be found to save her for future generations to experience. If we can save her hull we can save Forceful

Any offers of assistance can be directed to the Friends of Forceful and they will see that they reach the appropriate people. -