Aug 8, 2008

Minister and Local MP Inspect Torres Strait Emergency Response

Minister and Local MP Inspect Torres Strait Emergency Response

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

August 8 2008

The Australian Government’s emergency response vessel ETV Pacific Responder plays an important role in protecting the Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef’s marine environment in the event of a shipping incident.

Today off Thursday Island, I and the Member for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour, met with the Australian crew on board ETV Pacific Responder and received an in-depth explanation of the vessel’s capabilities in emergency towage, pollution response, and search and rescue.

The tug is celebrating its second anniversary, under contract to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), in providing emergency response services to shipping incidents in the region.

In addition, it provides AMSA with maintenance and construction services for its aids to navigation network in the Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef.

The Cairns-based vessel has responded to several shipping incidents in the region, including assisting Papua New Guinea authorities contain a cargo ship fire in the Torres Strait. It also assisted in the salvage operations for the “Pasha Bulker” incident at Newcastle last year.

There are no port-based tugs capable of emergency towage services in the Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef.

The availability of ETV Pacific Responder to deal with shipping emergencies greatly reduces the risk of pollution and avoids several days’ delay while a tug responded from southern ports.

I also took the opportunity to familiarise myself with other aspects of AMSA’s operations in the region, including safety regulation of shipping and coastal pilotage services, pollution response preparedness and search and rescue.