Harbour open to attack
The Daily Telegraph
May 28, 2006
AUSTRALIA remains highly vulnerable to
a terrorist attack because of "gaping holes" in maritime security, a
counter-terrorism conference has been told.
Maritime Union of Australia spokesman Dean Summers said foreign ships
carrying explosive cargoes – including ammonium nitrate – were freely plying
"When these ships are issued with a permit, there are no checks whatsoever of
their bona fides," Mr Summers said.
He told the Port and Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Conference in
Sydney that the country's ports and ferries – particularly those in Sydney –
were an easy target for
"Foreign ships are carrying highly dangerous cargo into our shores, which means
our coastal ports and cities are being laid open to potential terrorists," Mr
International security experts have expressed fears that al-Qaeda may launch
a maritime attack. There are fears terrorists may use ships as floating bombs,
or hijack a ship and ram it into a port.
Labor said maritime security was a "gaping hole" in securing Australia
Labor Senator Glenn Sterle told a budget estimates hearing last week about
200,000 foreign seafarers visit Australian shores each year without stringent
He said it was "a contradiction" that the Government was tightening security
around Australian seafarers and port workers while allowing foreign-flagged
ships to do whatever they liked.
"There remains a stark contrast in the security checks made on Australian
seafarers operating on Australian-registered or licensed ships compared to
foreign seafarers working in Australian coastal waters on foreign ships," Mr
About 50 ships daily call at Australia's 60 ports.
Under the Government's tightened security measures for Australian port
workers, Maritime Security Identification Cards will be issued to the country's
130,000 maritime workers, but delays in setting up the scheme have meant the
cards won't be available until early next year.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the US tightened its port
security and shipping movements, aware of the potential for a seaborne terrorist
But Mr Summers said that Australia continued to lag well behind the US, which
had adopted a strict policy, allowing only US-owned-and-operated ships to ply