Friday, February 19, 2010

Levy On Shipping Lines Will Pay Australians Maritime Disaster Compensation

Repercussions for Oil Spill Last Year
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – The Federal Government will increase the levy on cargo ships by a further 3 cents a tonne, taking the charge over 14cents a tonne overall, after the Disaster of the Queensland coast in March last year saw thirty one containers of fertiliser lost to Hurricane Hamish from the decks of the Swire Shipping vessel MV Pacific Adventurer. These then punctured the ships hull with the loss of hundreds of tonnes of fuel oil into the ocean damaging the environment and affecting local tourism.

Under the liability terms of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) convention the owners could legally only be obliged to pay less than the actual clean up costs. In fact Swire paid above this, stumping up around A$25 million as against the actual cost of A$31 million. The balance was paid by the Queensland Government who will look to the Australian Maritime Authority to settle up. There were criticisms at the time at the tardiness of the clean up operation.

The extra levy should be in place by 1st April and although described as “temporary” it’s hard to remember many cases of such Government charges being lowered once imposed. The IMO have noted the move and it will be undoubtedly discussed at the organisations next meeting. The loss registration link on Swire Shipping’s website remains open and there is a fund available for valid private claims managed by the Court.