Australia to look into possible abandoned ship and crew


The Australian Government has been urged to intervene to identify the owner of 36-year-old supply ship MV Yarabah that has spent almost two months languishing at Port Welshpool, in the South Gippsland region of Victoria.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said the crew of the ship, who are Indian nationals, have allegedly been paid a flat rate of just AUD 120 per week while working in the port since the beginning of April.

The union is demanding action from the Federal Government to identify whether the vessel has been abandoned. The Government would also identify the owner and operator of the ship, the crew’s legal status, and how they have been paid such a low wage while operating in Australian waters.

“For nearly two months this vessel has been sitting at a regional Australian port, crewed by a group of Indian nationals who are reportedly being paid just a fraction of the minimum wage,” Dean Summers, ITF Australia coordinator, said, adding that the Government needs “to urgently intervene.

The issue highlighted the importance of an ongoing Senate examination into Flag of Convenience (FOC) shipping in Australian waters, according to the ITF.

In a submission to the inquiry, Border Force wrote that “organised crime syndicates or terrorist groups may seek to exploit” flag of convenience shipping arrangements due to a “lack of transparency of the identity of shipowners” and “insufficient flag state regulatory enforcement and adherence to standards”.

“Clearly, the system is failing, resulting in the Australian community and environment being put at risk by rogue shipping operators taking advantage of inadequate regulation and compliance,” Summers said. 

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