The Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has affirmed an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) decision to ban the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Fortune Genius from entering or using an Australian port for a period of twelve months.
AMSA surveyors boarded the 2002-built vessel in Gladstone on 5 September 2019 after receiving a complaint via the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
The vessel was subsequently detained after AMSA’s investigation revealed the crew had been deliberately underpaid by the operator for consecutive months totalling approximately $100,000, and used two sets of wage accounts in order to deceive authorities.
In his decision, AAT Deputy President James Constance agreed with AMSA that such contraventions of the Maritime Labour Convention are extremely serious and that banning the vessel was appropriate in the circumstances.
AMSA’s General Manager of Operations Allan Schwartz said that AMSA would never tolerate ships that underpay their crew in Australia.
“The international conventions that protect seafarers’ rights are very clear,” Schwartz pointed out.
“The decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal supports AMSA’s approach to ban ships that underpay crew for extended periods of time.”
“Ships visiting Australian ports are on notice that if we find deliberate and repeated underpaying of crew and attempts to deceive authorities, they can expect penalties,” he added.