18 February 2024

Sea Swift, TSIRC sideline legal battle in call for Torres Strait marine infrastructure boost

| Cape York Weekly
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Sea Swift has put aside its legal stoush with Torres Strait Island Regional Council to lobby the State and Federal Governments for improved infrastructure in the Torres Strait. Photo: Lyndon Keane.

Sea Swift and Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) have shelved their legal argy-bargy to call for improved marine infrastructure in the region.

The surprise move comes after the council sued the shipping company for more than $66.5 million in December 2022 over what it claimed were unpaid mooring fees at council-owned wharves and jetties across Torres Strait.

In July last year, a court told the parties to attempt to reach a commercial settlement through mediation.

Sea Swift said the partnership took shape after Masig Island residents were recently left isolated due to severe weather events and conditions that rendered the barge ramp unusable.

A Sea Swift vessel attempted to access the island several times a fortnight ago, with all attempts unsuccessful due to conditions.

Working with the high tide on 9 and 10 February, 2024, TSIRC staff removed about 100 tonnes of wet sand from the ramp, which allowed the vessel to finally dock and unload the following day.

READ ALSO New arrival to shore up Sea Swift, but will it spell the end for the Trinity Bay?

Sea Swift managing director Chris Pearce praised the effort but said the issue demonstrated marine infrastructure in the region was not up to scratch.

“Teams at both TSIRC and Sea Swift should be congratulated for the mammoth effort it took to finally provide for the Masig Island community at this time,” he said.

“Sea Swift will continue to work closely with the council to ensure all communities and locations in the Torres Strait have ongoing food and supply security this wet season.”

Mr Pearce and TSIRC chief executive officer James William said they would now join forces to lobby both levels of government for improved infrastructure, and will travel to Torres Strait islands to get a first-hand look at the challenges Sea Swift crews and communities respectively face in terms of delivery and supply.

“In a fresh approach, TSIRC and Sea Swift are now working closely together to better understand these challenges, and formulating options to advocate to both State and Commonwealth Government to invest into the region,” Mr William said.

“We want to work together with all stakeholders towards continual improvements to vital infrastructure which underpin critical services to this important region,” Mr Pearce added.

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