Specifically, Shipping Australia, a national shipping association, states that the ban of cargo vessels from entering the country will have severe impact in Australians and families.
The Australian Prime Minister announced the implementation of improved restrictions by midnight of March 15, for those entering from any overseas destination; Yet, Shipping Australia argues that this decision is against the existent instructions from the Australian Border Force.
Some shipping lines may well be forced to omit port calls or, in the worst case scenario, stop calling at Australia altogether
... Shipping Australia commented.
In addition, it is stated that the possibility of ships not calling Australia will result to massive re-location of cargo away from where it is supposed to be and it will have to be trucked across the continent. Therefore, this would mean more weight to truck drivers, who have been already impacted by the pandemic.
In light of the Prime Minister's announcement, Shipping Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Rod Nairn, commented that
The MSQ policy is reckless and indefensible, cargo ship crews are probably the lowest risk sector in the world with not one cargo ship crew member yet being confirmed as having COVID-19.
In the meantime, Australia is a hub for less developed nations, such as Papua New Guinea. This means that there is a possibility of blocking shipping towards less developed nations.
Moreover, on March 18, Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) banned all commercial ships from entering ports in Queensland if the ship, or any person onboard, has been in any country outside of Australia within the last 14-days. Shipping Australia understands that other port authorities are engaging in similar measures.
Shipping Australia added that the announcement may hinder the ability of everyday Queenslanders to buy goods and it also effectively hinders the ability of ships to take new crew onboard.
It is highlighted that
any person who contravenes MSQ’s direction commits a criminal offence under section 191A(8) of the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994. The maximum prescribed penalty for a contravention of this direction is $66,725 for an individual and $333,625 for a corporation.
The Association alerts that the ban of all ships will have a huge impact on Australia and Australians; Therefore, Shipping Australia urges "politicians, border authorities and port authorities around the world to see the bigger picture and recognise the importance of freight and shipping. People everywhere are in desperate need of food, medicines and everyday goods. And only shipping can deliver it to them in the huge volumes needed."
They also recommend that
A simple and easy solution to head-off this wholly unnecessary and harmful disruption is for the Federal, State and Territory governments to work together in directing port authorities to remove all bans on commercial, freight-carrying vessels that have left an overseas port within 14 days to call at a port in Australia... Seafarers onboard those ships would simply remain onboard and would not mix with the Australian community.