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Maritime Safety Queensland eases unduly restrictive port entry policy – but vital problems remain

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) has announced a significant easing of its restrictive policy of forcing ships to stay away for 14-days since they were last at an overseas port. But landside supply chains continue to experience problems in Queensland. Acknowledging that there has been “a disturbing trend of vessel cancellations into the Port of Brisbane, cancellations that potentially bring a range of unintended consequences to the Queensland economy”, MSQ has announced a new ‘Two Port’ policy.

Nearly all vessels arriving at the Port of Brisbane will now be able to berth and unload cargo provided their crew stay onboard. However, ships arriving from China and South Korea will still have to stay away until 14-days have passed since they were last in an overseas port. Since the introduction of its original policy to restrict vessels from all ports, exemptions have been issued for ships arriving from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the South West Pacific Nations and Singapore. These exemptions are now effectively obsolete for ships calling at the Port of Brisbane. Shipping companies will no longer need to request these exemptions.

“It can be argued that a policy that requires a long list of exemptions and amendments probably was not a very good policy to begin with,” said Melwyn Noronha, Deputy CEO, Shipping Australia. MSQ has continued with its own policy of requiring ships to stay away from the other 20 Queensland ports until a period of 14-days has passed since the vessels were last in an overseas jurisdiction. We understand from Shipping Australia members that some trades, such as the sugar, chemicals, iron ore concentrates, and the fertilizer trades could still be adversely affected.

For instance, we understand that flow of fertilizer into ships is being disrupted by MSQ’s rules: port entry by ships are unnecessarily delayed; loading gets delayed; removal of product from the storage sheds does gets delayed; storage sheds are full; trains to storage sheds cannot be loaded; and factories end up with an abundance of product they cannot despatch. Factories may have to standdown workers while transport and storage businesses along the fertilizer supply chain suffer lost revenues. And that at a time when Australia is beginning to experience mass workforce disruption. “There is a simple and easy solution to this wholly unnecessary and harmful disruption.

The Federal, State and Territory governments should direct port authorities to remove restrictions on cargo- \carrying vessels from berthing, and loading/unloading cargo when those ships have previously called at overseas port within the last 14-days. Port authorities should follow the pragmatic and national guidance of the Australian Border Force,” said Melwyn Noronha, Deputy CEO, Shipping Australia. “Freight and logistics are vital to Australia’s supply chain. The port supply chain should be viewed as an essential service as governments assess further stages beyond the current shutdown measures” he added. Shipping Australia is a peak national shipping association comprising 28-member shipping lines and shipping agents along with 44 companies that provide services to the commercial freight-related maritime industry. Our members are involved with over 70 per cent of Australia’s container and car trade, over 60 per cent of our break bulk and bulk trades.
Source: Shipping Australia

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