Advance, Australia Fair


When I was a young Engineer Officer in the British Merchant Navy, I was fortunate enough to twice visit Australia. I did get to know a few of that Nation’s wonderful inhabitants. Those days, there were no ‘politically correct’ limits on what anyone could say; about either another person, another group or indeed, another Country. The Aussies I met, from Cairns to Newcastle, from Sydney through Melbourne and on to Adelaide and Perth, were direct, plain speaking descendants of the great British flow of genuine migrants, along with throngs from many other European Nations, which had combined to give Australia a unique perspective on their Country, their Commonwealth and the UN-lucky countries elsewhere. 

Their rather touching belief that every country was the same as Australia in terms of size was demonstrated when a Cairns-based wharfie foreman asked me whereabouts I lived in England. I replied ‘My folks live near Crook, in County Durham’. He then asked me how far Leeds was, from Crook. I again replied ‘Oh, Leeds is about a hundred miles from Leeds’. He then said the magic words, “You’ll know my Grandma”. It took a fair while to dissuade him of the belief that England was of the same population and distance standards as his own Country.

But the greatest gift that that magic mix of Nationalities gave Australia, in my own view, was the built-in scepticism of Government, of politicians in general, and of the belief that Ronald Reagan was dead right.

But sometimes, Australia does come up with the right Governing policies and, more importantly, Government Agencies who carry out those policies, fairly, firmly; but on mainly supporting the side of ‘The Little Guy’, because that same ‘Little Guy’ doesn’t wield enough muscle of his own. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has just ordered Tianjin Shun Xin Yuan Shipping to repatriate nine crew members who have been onboard general cargo ship Brio Faith for more than 12 months.

Seems as though the AMSA guys did an on-board inspection after a tip-off (now I just wonder who held THAT particular mobile phone) and discovered (shock; horror) that some crew members had been on board for up to two YEARS. 

AMSA refused the owner’s proposal to keep the seafarers onboard until the next port, Shanghai, and issued a direction notice prohibiting the ship from departing until all nine seafarers had been repatriated.

Those seafarers are now making their way to Brisbane to take international flights home.

The ship embarked fresh crew to meet its minimum manning requirements and departed on Wednesday.

I have written before today of the hidden crisis covering some five-six hundred thousand PEOPLE who are being virtually held against their will; because of the total collapse of crew renewal and transfer arrangements due to the Corona Virus.

Why doesn’t the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency throw a lifeline to all personnel who sail into British waters, ports, anchorages and harbours: and tell the Ship Owners to ‘get off their comfortably-padded arses, and arrange for similar arrangements for all overdue staff to be replaced before such vessels depart our waters’. 

Now there’s a thought: a UK Government Agency standing up to an Industry. 

Nope: Never Happen!