Queensland Slams Door on Cargo Ships - MSQ Exemptions Granted for New Zealand, PNG and South West Pacific                                           

Further to the broadcast message to members this morning, regarding the Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) ban on all 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.

Following industry lobbying to the MSQ, there has been an announcement by MSQ which provides 'country specific' exemptions for vessels departing from New Zealand, PNG and South West Pacific origin.

Whilst this is a welcome change to the ban, the exemptions do not go far enough, the issue still remains for those vessels departing from Singapore and Malaysia, etc.  

AFIF will continue to lobby on the issue on behalf of members.

MSQ Announcement

Exemptions to the General Manager’s Direction – ‘COVID-19_15 March International Vessels’

Following this morning’s promulgation of ‘GM Direction – COVID-19_15 March International Vessels’ a number of requests for exemptions have been received and processed.

MSQ has stood up a dedicated taskforce to assess all such requests. Assessments will be based on whether the request is justified as being ‘a significant disruption to the supply of essential trade to the State’ as well as whether ‘sufficient risk mitigation measures can be demonstrated, and verified, that protect Queensland’s maritime workforce’. Additional guidance on the assessment of requests will be promulgated tomorrow.

Requests that fall outside these strict criteria will not be considered.

Following discussions with Maritime New Zealand, shipping lines, Queensland ports and Queensland Health I have been able to grant the following ‘country specific’ exemptions to the Direction (noting individual ships will also be assessed);

• New Zealand

• Papua New Guinea

• South West Pacific Nations (to be defined by specific island states).

Vessels departing from these countries have been deemed eligible for exemption based on the following:

  • Respective countries have taken early and proactive national measures to control boarders to incoming passengers,
  • Current rates ofin-country infection are reported as low {New Zealand-20, PNG-0, SW Pacific – 0},
  • Verified port precautionary practices,
  • Geographical isolation.

These country specific exemptions will be reviewed weekly or in the event information is received that changes their specific risk profile.

Additionally, MSQ is aware that in the case of Papua New Guinea and South West Pacific Islands, the continued provision of essential goods is critical for these isolated and vulnerable nations during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In assessing all requests I will continue to be guided maintaining the wellbeing of Queensland’s maritime workforce and ensuring the continued provision of vital maritime services in-and-out of Queensland ports over the coming challenging months. Equally, the welfare of our international seafarers is an important consideration in the measures I have adopted.

Angus Mitchell
General Manager
Maritime Safety Queensland
Department of Transport and Main Roads

AFIF will keep members informed of progress.