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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Queensland coastline protected with toughest fines in the country

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Queensland coastline protected with toughest fines in the country

    Queensland’s pristine coastline will be given additional protection with fines for shipping companies involved in oil spills set to increase by more than five times.

    Premier Anna Bligh announced the maximum penalty for corporations involved in oil spills in Queensland waters would increase from $1.75 million to $10 million while the maximum fine for individuals involved in at-sea mishaps would increase from $350,000 to $500,000.

    Ms Bligh said the financial penalties were now the equal toughest in the country and reflected the State Government’s commitment to protecting Queensland’s marine environment.

    The increase in penalties follows the Pacific Adventurer oil spill in Moreton Bay in March last year and the recent grounding of a Chinese vessel near Great Keppel Island.

    “When you consider the pristine and fragile environment of an icon like our Great Barrier Reef you need to understand that it is not only unique in Queensland and Australia, it is also an international World Heritage listed icon,” the Premier said.

    “We need to do everything in our power to ensure it remains in pristine condition and this increase in penalties will send a message to the thousands of ship crews who pass through Queensland waters that nothing but the greatest attention to safety and care will be tolerated.

    “Ten million dollars is a lot of money for any company to have to hand over in the event of a marine mishap and it would be in addition to any compensation a company would have to pay for a clean-up.

    “Those who profit from the transportation of goods through Queensland’s coastal waters have a responsibility to be diligent and those who aren’t will pay the price.”

    Ms Bligh said she had today written to the Commonwealth Government, requesting that it review its own marine protection legislation to give consideration to commensurate increases in penalties.

    Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said amendments to the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Act agreed to today by Cabinet also tighten up requirements for vessels and crews by:

    • Removing shipping company’s right to withhold documentation in the event of a spill and
    • Allowing Maritime Safety to detain a vessel when it is a likely pollution risk to ensure faults are rectified

    “There were lessons to be learned from both of the shipping mishaps in Queensland waters over the past year – our government is determined that those lessons result in action ,” Ms Nolan said.

    “Shipping companies cannot be allowed to withhold important documents when the health of Queensland’s oceans and wildlife are at risk.

    “In the event of a spill, our Maritime Safety Queensland officials need access to as much information as possible, including records held by the shipping company about things like the vessel’s maintenance and seaworthiness.

    “These amendments mean shipping companies will no longer be able to frustrate our efforts by refusing to provide documents on the basis that the documents may be incriminating.

    “If these tough new penalties don’t deter rogue shipping operators from putting our seas at risk, we are giving Maritime Safety officers new powers to detain a vessel which poses a pollution risk in our waters and ensure appropriate action is taken to rectify the problem before the ship is allowed to operate again. “

    Ms Bligh said the amendments to the legislation would be in place before the end of the year.

    Media: 3224 4500