Queensland Slams Door on Cargo Ships - Update

MSQ Announces Queensland 'Two Port' Policy     

Dear AFIF Members,

Further to the broadcast messages 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 considerable industry lobbying on the issue, including AFIF's participation, MSQ has announced a Queensland Two Port Policy which means that the Port of Brisbane will fall in line with the Federal Government advice on receiving foreign vessels into Australia - WITH THE EXCEPTION OF VESSELS AND CREW FROM CHINA AND SOUTH KOREA (Vessels and crew from these nations will still need to observe the 14 day isolation period until further notice). Federal Government direction is at the attachment - ABF Commercial Vessel Advice 20 March 2020.

MSQ Announcement

Queensland 'Two Port' Policy

MSQs decision to provide ‘country of origin’ exemptions over the past 24 hours has significantly decreased many of our industry partner concerns following the enactment of Wednesday’s Direction. That being said, MSQ has observed a disturbing trend of vessel cancellations into the Port of Brisbane, cancellations that potentially bring a range of unintended consequences to the Queensland economy. This needs to be addressed immediately. 

The Port of Brisbane has a significantly different trade and risk profile than Queensland’s northern ports. Over the last 24 hours MSQ has seen the container liner trades to Brisbane seeking the majority of exemptions to the Direction. Whilst many of these exemptions have been granted (based on ‘the provision of essential trade’) this process has placed undue administrative burden on our shipping agents.                

Whilst I had hoped that other Australian states would align their protective measures with Queensland noting the gravity of the risk, this has not been the case. The consequence has been that Queensland, and the Port of Brisbane in particular, faces a disproportionate hit to import trade compared to neighbour states. This in-turn may place an additional strain on the freight network to relocate goods north to Queensland in the event vessels decide to unload in Sydney or Melbourne. 

To address this situation MSQ hosted a number of roundtable discussions with a broad range of industry partners today.

Following those meetings I have taken the decision to establish a ‘Two Port’ policy for the state of Queensland – this policy will take effect Monday 23 March.

This policy will mean that the Port of Brisbane will fall in line with the Federal Government advice on receiving foreign vessels into Australia - WITH THE EXCEPTION OF VESSELS AND CREW FROM CHINA AND SOUTH KOREA (Vessels and crew from these nations will still need to observe the 14 day isolation period until further notice). Federal Government direction is at the attachment - ABF Commercial Vessel Advice 20 March 2020.

All other Queensland ports will remain under the guidance of Wednesday’s General Managers Direction.   Any exemptions to the Direction in these ports will continue to be processed by MSQ in-line with previous processes.  This means vessels can be received into the Port of Brisbane without any time-based restrictions provided safeguard measures are maintained in line with the ABF Commercial Vessel Advice 20 March 2020 attached.

Prior to making this decision I have sought assurance from our Brisbane industry partners they understand the gravity of the situation and are confident the protective measures contained within ABF Commercial Vessel Advice 20 March 2020 satisfy their obligation to safeguard their workforce.

Equally, I am reassured that many of the vessels that call into Brisbane then proceed to southern states where seafarers will have satisfied the 14 day isolation period and can step off their vessel.

As I have maintained all along, protecting our vital supply lines through protecting our maritime workforce remains my priority, equally however I must ensure essential trade can be received into Queensland.

Please find all General Managers Directions at the embedded links.

General Managers Direction to all Ships Queensland – COVID_5 March

General Managers Direction to all Ships Queensland – COVID-19_s191A Thursday Island

General Managers Direction to all Ships Queensland – COVID 19 15 March International Vessels

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

AFIF will keep members informed of progress.  

Regards

AFIF Team