Government to blame for reef damage
The grounding of the bulk carrier Doric Chariot on the world heritage Great Barrier Reef is just further proof of the damage that the Federal Government shipping policy is doing to our marine environment, says the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). The owner, master and second mate of the foreign flagged Doric Chariot have been charged over the grounding, a sad indictment of the Federal Government's policy of promoting foreign shipping at the expense of the Australian maritime industry. "It was obvious to all of us involved in the rescue operation that no-one on board was paying attention", said Peter Lamond, one of around a dozen MUA salvage crew involved in the emergency response and the freeing of the vessel from the reef in recent days. The 73,000 ton Doric Chariot ran aground on July 29, burying its hull four metres into the reef. The MUA was vocal throughout the grounding, warning about the damage the Federal Government policy of opening our coast to more and more substandard ships of shame was causing to our environment. "Our concerns were valid", said MUA Southern Queensland Branch Secretary, Mick Carr. "Divers, salvage crew and environmentalists have all confirmed the huge wreckage the grounding has done to some 3500 square metres of coral and marine life. There is now special concern over the affect the anti-fouling paint from hull of ship is going to have in the long term. "In the meantime Australia is stuck with the clean-up operation while the vessel and its owners will escape with token fines", said Mr Carr. "Once again the professionalism of Australian maritime workers' response teams has been crucial in the emergency towage operation to free the vessel from the reef. But if the Howard Government had its way we'd have poorly trained guest workers doing this job too." The Doric Chariot was a Greek Flag vessel with a Filipino crew of convenience and Greek officers. It had sailed from Hay Point, near Mackay, on way to India with a load of coal when the grounding off Cairns occurred. Charges have also been laid this week against the owners and master of a Panamanian-registered chemical tanker, the Botany Trust, over an oil spill in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Mackay, in July 2000. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority carried out an extensive two-year international investigation to identify the vessel responsible. The oil released from the tanker created a slick about 300 metres wide and three nautical miles long.