Lambie exposes Maritime security loophole

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie, used her visit to Caltex Oil headquarters in Sydney on Monday 20th July to confirm that more than 20,000 port visits would occur each year by thousands of foreign Petroleum Tanker maritime crews, who are not subjected to ASIO and Federal Police security checks.

“I understand that because of lax Government laws, all of Australia’s big oil companies, and not just Caltex, are legally able to, unchecked - chase profits, no matter what the damage is to Australia’s terrorism security safeguards and national interest.” said Senator Lambie.

“It’s come as a hell of a shock to me - and many average Tasmanians, but I now understand after talking with Maritime Union Members and Caltex Officers, that both Labor and Liberal governments have made rules which allow our big oil and other associated companies - to legally sack Australian maritime crew and replace them with foreigners on their tankers.

If our Coastal Shipping laws aren’t changed, the tragedy which has happened on the Alexander Spirit in Devonport (where 36 Australian Crew were sacked so that cheap foreigners can replace them) will continue to be repeated throughout our oil industry, until the 57 petroleum tankers required for fuel imports to Australia each year  are entirely crewed by cheap overseas workers.” said Senator Lambie.

“However, what I can’t understand is the dangerous, casual and she’ll-be-right attitude that both Caltex Oil and the Abbott Government have displayed when I raised the issue of security clearances and health checks for those overseas maritime crews.

All Australian maritime workers are required to undergo rigorous security, criminal history and health checks by ASIO, federal police and other government agencies, before they are allowed to work on board our ships, including petroleum tankers – which are high value targets for terrorists.

A Caltex Officer when questioned about the threat from a Terrorist attack on their ships and their on-shore oil infrastructure, replied “that was not likely to occur.” This is despite the fact that Australia’s official terror rating is officially set as High - meaning a terrorist attack was likely any day. And at the time of his reply, we were sitting in an office which was a block or two from the Lindt Café - the site of Australia’s ISIS terrorist attack!” said Senator Lambie.

“The Abbott Government, through Senator Abetz, has also continued to minimise - indeed cover up the significant terrorist threat to our border security and vital oil infrastructure - from overseas maritime crews when he recently told the Tasmanian media that: To suggest one extra shipping movement from Singapore might pose a terrorist threat is an interesting proposition on which the government will not be spending an excessive amount of time.

Senator Abetz has been caught out lying to the people of Tasmania and media because his own Government statistics reveal that more than 20,000 port visits would occur each year by thousands of foreign Petroleum Tanker crews, who are not subjected to ASIO and Federal police security checks.

Senator Abetz should apologise for his lies - and for deliberately downplaying the very real threat his government knows exists to our environment, border and national fuel security from thousands of uncertified and untested foreign maritime workers.

It’s clear that for the nearly 2 years of Liberal Government - a National security loophole has existed in Australia, which you can drive an oil tanker through. And should a successful terrorist attack occur against our land and sea based petroleum or gas facilities – it will be partly because of a negligent, arrogant and casual attitude from the Abbott government and an Australian oil industry, which donates so generously to our main political parties.” said Senator Lambie.

During my visit to Caltex HQ, even though they tried to tell me that they were an apolitical company, my staff and I gently reminded them that the $34,000 they donated only to the Liberal party before the last election, contradicted their apolitical status claim.

And once again I call on the Liberals to give a guarantee that the $34,000 dollar donation from Caltex and donations from other big oil companies to the Liberals’ / Nationals’ election campaign - hasn’t caused their Prime Minister to support a coastal shipping policy which allows big Oil to make bigger profits, while leaving big holes in our border protection and national security systems!” said Senator Lambie.

“I’m informed by the MUA that, Alexander Spirit is scheduled to depart at 0300 hours Wednesday 22nd July and a vigil is being held at the assembly point this evening and along the foreshore at the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the brave crew and families of the Alexander Spirit. They ‘ve been put though hell and have fought a brave battle on the behalf of all fair-minded Aussies who believe that the chase for more profits is not a good enough reason to sack Australians and hire cheap overseas workers, while placing at risk our security and the National interest.

It was a privilege to meet and talk with them. ” said Senator Lambie.

“Given their recent behaviour, God Help Australia If our big Oil companies were put in charge of the country. It wouldn’t be long, given their obvious influence over our main political parties, before they’d convince the Australian Government to sack our Diggers and hire Indonesian troops to guard our nation – because on paper, Indonesian troops are cheaper, would increase productivity and make bigger profits.” said Senator Lambie with a very sarcastic, angry tone.

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