Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

The Rising Tide of Terror; Border Protection Warns Major Infrastructure Could Become a Target

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

The Rising Tide of Terror; Border Protection Warns Major Infrastructure Could Become a Target

Article excerpt

Byline: Owen Jacques

AUSTRALIA'S major ports including those in regional Queensland could become "attractive" to criminals and terrorist s if the government loosens the rules to allow more foreign ships to service local ports.

The warning was given by the Department of Border Protection as part of a Senate Inquiry into Flags of Convenience shipping.

Flag of convenience is the term for ships registered in one country - often in an effort to avoid scrutiny and to pay lower wages - while its owners operate in another.

Foreign shipping became the focus of a senate inquiry after two foreign sailors mysteriously died in Australian waters aboard the Japanese Sage Sagittarius or "Death Ship" in 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss believes the reforms could cut the cost of shipping in Australia, making the industry more competitive.

Under the planned reforms, foreign ships and their crews may operate in Australian waters for up to six months without having to pay workers in line with Australian wage laws.

As part of the inquiry, the Department of Border Protection warned foreign shipping firms often hid behind shell companies, which would appeal to criminals and terror cells.

The department found the secrecy makes those ships "attractive for use in illegal activity, including organised crime or terrorist groups".

It "makes it difficult to identify the individuals and organisations involved in their operations".

Border Security's Dr Benjamin Evans told the inquiry authorities were often ham-strung by international law with foreign ships.

He said it was often illegal for Australian authorities to board foreign ships approaching national waters, even if they were under suspicion.

Australian ports were singled out for protection from terrorist attacks in the Maritime Transport Security Act passed in 2003 following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. …

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