Exporter blocks inspector

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
The Bader III in Fremantle Port.
Camera IconThe Bader III in Fremantle Port. Credit: Sandra Jackson

The State Government has attempted to inspect a live export vessel in Fremantle Harbour amid concerns companies are using old and unfit ships for voyages to the Middle East.

The incident led to a stand-off between exporters and State officials, with the former claiming inspectors were blocked because they had no legal jurisdiction.

The WA Government says it sent an official to inspect Livestock Shipping Services’ Bader III livestock vessel as it prepared to leave for the Middle East with a boatload of sheep last Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the official arrived “too late” and the gangplank had been pulled up by the time they came.

But the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, speaking on behalf of LSS, said the State official was blocked because the vessel was under Federal jurisdiction.

The episode comes as the Federal Government reviews grandfathering provisions of shipping standards that allow older vessels to continue to carry animals.

Last month the Australian Maritime Safety Authority slapped a temporary ban on the 36-year-old Al Messilah from making live export runs after almost 3000 sheep died en route to the Persian Gulf.

Ms MacTiernan said the industry had had more than 10 years to meet these shipping standards, and the grand-fathering provisions should be removed.

“We recently received advice from the Solicitor-General’s office that application of State animal welfare laws on the live export ships would not necessarily be inconsistent with Federal laws and would likely not pose a constitutional issue,” she said.

“We’re allowing these 35-plus-year-old ships, which have not been modified to meet contemporary standards, to continue to operate.”

Ms MacTiernan said there was no excuse for retaining the provisions.

“Continually after these standards were implemented, these so-called ‘ships of shame’ keep trundling along,” she said.

“Meanwhile, there is a massive shipbuilding industry going on around the world.

“I was recently told that most iron ore carriers are less than seven years old.

“In this industry, which we are told is a valuable and important industry, we’re allowing these old ships, which have not been modified to meet contemporary standards, to continue to operate.”

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