Protesters demand answers from former Victorian Ports Minister over how VICT was awarded contract

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Today the Maritime Union of Australia protested at the office of former Victorian Minister for Ports, David Hodgett. Protesters demanded the former Minister answer questions about how controversial Filipino port operator, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), was awarded the contract to operate the Webb Dock terminal at the Port of Melbourne.

ICTSI’s Australian subsidiary, Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), was awarded the contract to operate Melbourne’s third container terminal in May 2014. At the time, Hodgett said that VICT “offered an exceptional package” that addressed the “community benchmarks” established by the Port of Melbourne Corporation.

However, protesters today questioned how a company with a history of partnering with regimes implicated in crimes against their own people, could meet the necessary “community benchmarks” to operate critical Victorian infrastructure.

Dean Fagan, a Victorian maritime worker, today called for transparency: “I’m here today to call on the Minister to answer questions about how a company with this reputation was given the contract to operate Webb Dock in Melbourne.”

Questions of due diligence were also raised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation. 

ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair, Paddy Crumlin stated that a critical questions remain to be answered: “Did the Liberal party conduct proper due diligence and investigate this company’s history before they awarded the contract?”

As one of the fastest growing terminal operators in the world, ICTSI has a history of going into countries described by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as some of the world’s worst places for workers, in which an individual’s ability to exercise human and labour rights is severely curtailed and often fraught with danger.

The company have partnered with regimes implicated in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including Syria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ICTSI’s Chairman and CEO has talked openly about profiting off dictatorships, courting controversy at the ASEAN Business Conference in Manilla in 2017 stating that, “the countries with the best infrastructure in the world are dictatorships,” and that “If we focus on things like governance and transparency we are still not going to get what we need to get done.”

“Why would the Liberal party do business with a company who profits from dictatorships, and regimes sanctioned for crimes against their own people?” Crumlin added.