Port operators bound by new security arrangements

Port operators now bound by new maritime security arrangements, but current identification card holders will be given special consideration

By Brad Gardner | July 5, 2010

Stronger security arrangements have been introduced for port operators, but special provisions will be implemented following concerns truck drivers might lose their livelihood.

New port security rules introduced on July 1 means operators applying for maritime security identity cards (MSIC) will need to meet new criteria.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese earlier this year announced the number of offences precluding someone from obtaining a card would increase from 137 to 298 offences.

The new offences include murder, use of prohibited explosives, making a bomb hoax, aggravated assault, kidnapping and bribing a government official.

The new offences will be applied when the card holder seeks a renewal.

During the consultation process, the Australian Trucking Association highlighted the effect the enhanced criteria could have.

ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says a driver sentenced for aggravated assault who has shown himself to be an honest and dependable employee might not be able to renew his MSIC.

"When his MSIC expires, the driver will not be able to get the card reissued without appealing to the Office of Transport Security, because aggravated assault will now be on the offence list.

"He could lose his job and his livelihood, even though he has shown he can be trusted with an MSIC," St Clair says.

Following consultation, the Federal Government decide to give specific consideration to those who have held an MSIC after committing an offence.

"They won’t get a new card automatically, but the fact they have shown they can be trusted with an MSIC will be specifically taken into account," St Clair says.

An information bulletin from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport says the department’s secretary will have the ability to consider a person’s MSIC history if they appeal against a decision to bar them from renewing the card.

As well as tightening the eligibility criteria, the Federal Government has also reduced the validity period of an MSIC from five to four years.

Card owners will also receive a background check every two years instead of five years under the previous provisions.

Those with an MSIC who commit a criminal offence will also be fined if they fail to advise the body responsible for issuing the card.

The maximum fine for an individual is $2,200, while those who issue an MSIC can be fined $5,500. Corporations face a maximum penalty of $27,500.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport expects the new provisions will add an extra $100 to each card holder over a four year period.

However, it anticipates the changes will not affect most card holders.

"…analysis conducted indicates there will be a likely increase from five to 18 in every 1000 new MSIC applicants found ineligible to hold a card," the department says.

Albanese says the changes will improve security at Australia’s ports and offshore facilities.

He says the changes were made following consultation and a comprehensive review into whether the MSIC was achieving its objectives.
"There are currently about 120,000 MSIC holders which includes truck drivers, oil and gas rig employees and stevedores," Albanese says.

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