Back to All News

Interception Protocols for Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (3.57 pm)

—I move:

That the Senate calls on the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr O’Connor), the Minister for Defence (Senator Faulkner) and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (Senator Evans) to conduct a review of the current protocols for the interception of Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels in Australian waters and report back to the Senate by 26 November 2009.

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales— Minister for Defence) (3.57 pm)—by leave—

The government is aware of concerns regarding the need for effective protocols surrounding the interception and interdiction of suspected illegal entry vessels. I can inform the Senate in relation to this motion that, in fact, two reviews are currently underway.

The first, announced yesterday by the Attorney- General and the Minister for Home Affairs, is a review of 35 separate pieces of legislation with a view to creating a maritime powers bill. This review will encompass, among other things, the laws surrounding the interdiction, boarding, search, seizure and retention of vessels.

I also advise the Senate of further work being done by Defence. In accordance with standard Defence procedures, an internal inquiry was conducted following the SIEV36 incident.

The inquiry report recommends a review of existing policies, procedures and training in relation to the ADF’s handling of apprehended vessels.

The review is currently underway and is being led by Defence’s Joint Operations Command, which is working closely with other relevant stakeholders, in particular the Royal Australian Navy and Border Protection Command.

Senators would note that this motion calls on the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and the Minister for Defence to hold a government review of these protocols. Given the review activity that is already occurring, the government would not support the motion, which proposes yet another review—that is, if Senator Hanson-Young determines that she intends, bearing in mind these ongoing reviews, to proceed with the motion that has been given formality by the Senate.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (3.59 pm)—by leave—

Thank you to the minister for clarifying his position. I guess I feel that if there is already a review, or various reviews, in process there would be no problem with reviewing the protocols and reporting back to the Senate by the given date.

Surely we would have the government’s support in passing this motion if it were already in the process of doing those reviews. It is simply about clarifying that the government is reviewing the protocols and that it will report back.

Motion negatived. Ayes 6, Noes 37

Back to All News