Australia is leading a global campaign for ship operators to bear more of the cost of cleaning up spills following a fuel leak near Queensland in March.
Australia is leading a global campaign for ship operators to bear more of the cost of cleaning up spills following a fuel leak near Queensland in March that left the Government to pick up part of the multimillion-dollar tab. The federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, has put the issue on the agenda for a meeting of the International Maritime Organisation legal committee early next year, with the prospect of international changes being agreed to within two years.
Mr Albanese wants the maximum compensation liability borne by ship operators for fuel load spills to be increased. This would increase insurance costs for the industry but reduce the chances of national governments needing to pay the excess.
Rules under the 1996 Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims set the maximum liability according to the size of the ship. For example, a typical container ship with a gross tonnage of 35,000 will have maximum compensation payable of about $24 million.
The Government has not revealed what maximum it is hoping to achieve.
''It is important that the polluter pay for the damage they cause,'' Mr Albanese said.
When the Pacific Adventurer lost 31 containers overboard and 270,000 litres of bunker fuel oil in rough seas off Moreton Island in March, the clean-up cost state and local governments more than $30 million, according to a recent report, exceeding the $25 million paid by the ship's operators, Swire Shipping.