Queensland Ports update as of 23 March 2020

23.03.2020 Dianne Tipping

We have received a number of queries from Members over the past day in regards to the Queensland “Two Port” policy re COVID-19. Provided by MSQ (Maritime Safety Queensland), 23 March 2020. Please note this direction could be subject to change at any time. 

MSQ’s decision to provide ‘country of origin’ exemptions over the past 48 hours has significantly decreased industry concerns following the enactment of Wednesday’s General Managers Direction.

MSQ has been seeking to balance safety and economic concerns, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that our ports and supply chains remain open.

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 General Managers Direction. Whilst many of these exemptions have been granted (based on ‘the provision of essential trade’) MSQ appreciates this application process has placed an administrative burden on shipping agents.
The consequence has been that Queensland, and the Port of Brisbane in particular, potentially faced challenges in getting essential cargo efficiently into the State.

To address this situation MSQ participated in discussions with industry and representative led to the establishment of a ‘Two Port’ policy for Queensland – this policy will take effect Monday 23 March.

This policy will mean that restrictions at the Port of Brisbane will be consistent 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). MSQ will continue to work with health authorities to monitor the situation in China and South Korea to explore avenues to open up these time-restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so. Please note Federal Government direction for receiving foreign trading vessels is at the attachment - ABF Commercial Vessel Advice 20 March 2020.

This Two Port policy 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, MSQ has sought assurance from our Brisbane industry partners that 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. Additionally, MSQ will continue to work with Brisbane maritime service providers to ensure sufficient supplies of protective equipment can be accessed.

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. The current environment is a difficult time for our international seafarers also.

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 advised processes. Current exemptions for vessels from NZ, South Pacific Islands, Singapore and PNG continue to apply to regional ports. MSQ will monitor exemptions on a ship-by-ship basis to ensure a trace back of the past 14 days of a vessels movements (regardless of its last port) is understood and there has been no potential for infection to be introduced to the vessel and not detected.
Protecting our vital supply lines to ensure they continue to be open, through protecting our maritime workforce remains our priority. Equally however, we must ensure essential trade can be received into, and exported out of, Queensland.

Please find all General Managers Directions at the embedded links

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