Banned Gladstone ship allowed back in Australian waters

NO GO: The Five Stars Fujian detained in Gladstone for a month last year.
NO GO: The Five Stars Fujian detained in Gladstone for a month last year.

THE 12-month Australian port ban on the controversial Five Stars Fujian - the ship detained off Gladstone last year - was lifted yesterday, but little has changed in the industry for underfed and underpaid workers.

The 93,000 tonne vessel, which was banned from entering Australian ports after not paying its crew wages for 12 months and for its dangerously low food supplies, is allowed back in our nation's waters.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority warned the vessel could face a permanent ban from Australian ports if it is detained within the next two years.

Mission to Seafarers Gladstone chaplain, Russell Cunningham, who supplied the 20 Chinese crewmen food and clothes, said he continues to see workers on "third world" wages during their visits to Australian ports.

He said some were pocketing $320 a month while working seven days a week.

"You have to take it on a ship by ship basis, sometimes it's a temporary glitch or it's a long term condition because they keep everything on a shoe string budget," he said.

The plight of the starved and poor crewmen made headiness across the nation while the vessel was deadlocked off Gladstone's shore for more than a month last August.

When the ban was imposed on September 1 2016, AMSA told The Observer it wanted to send a warning to shipping companies involved in similar "completely unacceptable" conduct.

But the government agency continues to enforce its powers on international vessels, with two more banned from Australian Ports in the past three months.

Now the Five Stars Fujian Shipping Co will face stricter inspections and punishments, an AMSA spokesperson told The Observer yesterday.

"If the vessel is detained within the next two years, it may be banned again for a longer period or permanently," the spokesperson said.

"A vessel's inspection history is one of the risk factors that determines how frequently a ship is inspected, so a ship with a previous ban is under added AMSA scrutiny.

A Maritime Safety Queensland spokesperson said state agencies worked closely with Commonwealth and welfare agencies to assist crews aboard international vessels involved in disputes over wages and conditions.

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