TIGHT new conditions for commercial ships entering Queensland ports have led to concerns they may impede the delay of crucial supplies.
Maritime Safety Queensland this week banned commercial ships from entering ports in Queensland if the ship, or any person onboard, has been in any country outside of Australia within the last 14-days.
“This means, for example, that a ship which left a port outside Australian Territorial Waters after 2359 on 15 March 2020 may not enter a Queensland pilotage area until 14 days after the ship left the port,” the MSQ direction reads.
MSQ cited Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that, from Sunday 15 March 2020, there would be a universal precautionary self-isolation requirement on international arrivals.
Shipping Australia chief executive, Rod Nairn, argued the MSQ policy was misguided.
“The MSQ policy is reckless and indefensible, cargo ship crews are probably the lowest risk sector in the world with not one cargo ship crew member yet being confirmed as having COVID-19,” Mr Nairn said.
Shipping Australia has also raised concerns about port authorities restricting ships, singling out Southern Ports in WA and Port Authority of New South Wales for scrutiny.
“Shipping Australia Limited is strongly opposed to any 14-day ban on ships regardless of which port authority imposes the ban,” a SAL statement read.
According to SAL, every day a ship is at sea costs about A$25,000 and an entry into port is about A$250,000, but the impact would be felt upon every Australians.
“Any 14-day ban on ships could result in profound adverse consequences for the everyday Australian, especially those in regional communities,” the SAL statement read.
“Depending on their individual circumstances, ocean shipping companies may change their port rotations, they may drop off Queensland cargo to different ports or they may simply stop sending their ships to Queensland.”
Comment has been sought from MSQ.