WA’s Hard Borders are Not So Hard

Maritime Union of Australia

The recent arrival of the iron ore bulk carrier Vega Dream with seven infected crew members in the Port of Port Hedland provides a stark reminder to the WA community of the need for tougher measures to protect the people of Western Australia.

Prior to the discovery of COVID19, the crew of the Vega Dream had direct contact with BHP’s day shift employees interacting with the vessel.
BHP, Pilbara Ports Authority and the McGowan Government aren’t providing the WA community with the full picture.
Each Vessel arriving in a Western Australian Port is boarded by a Marine Pilot who manoeuvres the vessel into the Port. Marine Pilots have direct exposure to the ships crew and are only provided with gloves and a face mask. Once the vessel is moored, the Pilot then returns to the community without any significant oversight.
The ships crew are permitted to depart the vessel to undertake ship’s functions alongside Western Australian Port Services employees and wharfie with as little as a facemask to mitigate the risk.
BHP and Pilbara Ports have no special procedures in place to deal with vessels that Arrive in WA after spending less than 14 days at sea.
There are no Medical Doctors on board the bulk carriers arriving in Port Hedland.
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