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Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs
Crimes committed at sea
House of Reps
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Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs
CHAIR (Mr Perrett)
ACTING CHAIR (Mrs Moylan)
Stone, Dr Sharman, MP
Rowland, Michelle, MP
Vasta, Ross, MP
Moylan, Judi, MP
Neumann, Shayne, MP
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Content WindowStanding Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs - 14/03/2013 - Crimes committed at sea
ANDERSON, Mr Iain, First Assistant Secretary, Criminal Justice Division, Attorney-General's Department
GOODMAN, Ms Camille Jean, Principal Legal Officer, International Law, Trade and Security Branch, Attorney-General's Department
INVERARITY, Ms Tara, Director, Criminal Justice Division, Criminal Law and Law Enforcement Branch, Attorney-General's Department
Committee met at 08:48
CHAIR ( Mr Perrett ): Welcome. I now declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry into the arrangements surrounding crimes committed at sea. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respects to the elders, both past, present and future. The committee also acknowledges the present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who now reside in this area and thanks them for their continuing stewardship of this land.
Please note that these proceedings are formal proceedings of parliament. Everything said should be factual and honest and it can be considered a serious manner to attempt has this week the committee. Would you like to make an introductory statement before we move to questions, Mr Anderson.
Mr Anderson : Yes, we would. Firstly, I would just like to make clear that the department does welcome this inquiry. We understand the concerns that have been raised which have led to this inquiry, particularly about crimes at sea when Australian victims are involved. There are, however, a range of mechanisms already in place in Australia to ensure that Australian laws can be applied to the fullest extent possible. Those arrangements recognise the different maritime boundaries surrounding Australia, the international obligations as well that apply and the cooperative structure that we have in place, being a federation of course, to ensure that different domestic jurisdictions can actually respond appropriately. These arrangements involve the Crimes at Sea Act, an intergovernmental agreement, the National Protocol for Receiving Reports of Crimes at Sea and the state and territory coronial systems. They all come together to ensure that whatever action can be taken will be taken, and it will be taken as quickly as possible with consultation as appropriate.
The department administers the Crimes at Sea Act and that act ensures that Australia can act in relation to crimes that occur at sea to the full extent of our criminal jurisdiction under international law. The act provides a cooperative scheme for dealing with crimes committed at sea in the area adjacent to Australia's coastline under Australian law and it is a scheme that has been agreed to by all Australian states as well as the Northern Territory.
The act also, importantly, provides for the application of Australian criminal law to areas outside the cooperative scheme. So, in a nutshell, out to 12 nautical miles from Australia's land boundary, matters can be dealt with under the criminal law of the adjacent state as a matter of the law of that state; from 12 to 200 nautical miles can be dealt with, again, under the law of the adjacent state and that is through the application of Commonwealth law applying that state law; and beyond 200 nautical miles, the criminal law of the Jervis Bay Territory, which is the criminal law of the ACT is applied. It is applied as far as it can be, and that goes to an act committed on an Australian ship, an act committed by an Australian citizen or an act committed a non-Australian ship not involving an Australian citizen if the next port of call of that ship is Australia or an external territory of Australia.
Our most common interaction with the Crimes at Sea Act is when requests are made to the Attorney-General for the consent to prosecute crimes committed while at sea because it is common that, the further you go out, more than one country might have jurisdiction and the potential to conduct a prosecution—for example, if it is a foreign-flagged vessel, if it is in the territorial waters of another state. The attorney's consent is required before a maritime offence can proceed to hearing or determination, if the offence is committed on or from a foreign-flagged ship and also if there is a country of registration that has jurisdiction over the alleged offence.
Mr Anderson : Attorney's consent is required before that charge can proceed. In practice, we receive request for consent to prosecute directly from the relevant state and territory police who have actually been involved in conducting the investigation. The attorney has to take into account any views that might be put forward by the country of registration of that vessel and any views expressed by a foreign government, if there are any, that might have jurisdiction over the offence as well. We then consult with the relevant police force. We consult with the offence of substantial law in the department and we consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In particular, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade deals with the seeking of views of foreign countries through diplomatic channels.
In the last two years we have received four requests for the attorney's consent to prosecute under the Crimes at Sea Act—two of those matters involved alleged offences that had been within 200 nautical miles of the Australian coastline and were in relation to incidences on board cruise liners; two of the requests were outside, so beyond 200 nautical miles—one of those was on a cruise ship and the other was on board a merchant vessel.
The committee, I think, heard some submissions and evidence about the harming Australians offences in the Criminal Code and I might just make some comments about that. That part of the Criminal Code was inserted following the Bali bombing in 2002 and it provides that, where there are attacks on Australian citizens and residents overseas, then there is a prosecution option for Australia where perpetrators are unable to be prosecuted under the terrorism legislation. You can prosecute in Australia, if there is a murder of an Australian citizen or resident, manslaughter of an Australian citizen or resident or intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to an Australian citizen or resident. The thing to bear in mind about that is, having passed that legislation, that does not in itself empower the AFP to go offshore and carry out investigations. Realistically it is always going to be a question of negotiations with the jurisdiction where such an offence occurs as to whether they are going to prosecute and whether we might carry out investigations. That is just a limitation on the practical utility of those offences.
ACTING CHAIR ( Mrs Moylan ): Early on in this inquiry we looked at the Kerry act that was passed in the United States. Someone from the Attorney-General's Department—I cannot recall who—made a comment that that would not work in Australia. We then had Dr Lewins, a maritime law specialist, and she pointed out that the CVSSA, the act governing ships in the United States, applies only to vessels that visit US ports and not to vessels that wish to traverse the territorial seas. The question Mr Perrett wanted me to ask is: couldn't Australia also enact legislation that regulates vessels that visit Australian ports under section 112 of the Navigation Act which gives power to regulate carriage of passengers? Also, couldn't some aspects of the CVSSA, such as mandatory reporting of crimes that involve Australian citizens, be implemented in Australian legislation without being in conflict with the UNCLOS regulations? We have all these laws, so perhaps one of you could explain to be committee why, from the evidence we have taken, there seems to have been a monumental failure in proper processes being followed, for example in the Brimble case. Clearly that is why the coroner recommended that there be some kind of inquiry into it.
Mr Anderson : The US is not a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, so that gives it the freedom to legislate that we do not have. The Convention on the Law of the Sea does limit the kinds of laws that we can pass for foreign flagged vessels. In particular, under article 21 of that we cannot pass laws and regulations about the design, construction, manning or equipment of foreign ships unless they are giving effect to generally accepted international standards or rules. That makes it very difficult for Australia to pass something analogous to the Kerry act. I will pass to my colleague to answer about the extent to which we could do anything about the reporting aspect.
Ms Goodman : As you would have heard, a balancing of jurisdictions is a question of looking at the extent of Australia's jurisdictions as a port state and the extent of foreign states' jurisdictions usually as a flag state. As Mr Anderson said, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea there is a range of rights that accrue to flag states, including their rights to regulate design, construction and manning of their ships. A general principle is that we respect the internal operation of a ship which is regulated by the laws of a foreign state on an ongoing basis, as ships move around the world and the general law that the flag state has primacy of jurisdiction on the high seas. With respect to a lot of the issues covered in the Kerry act, it is the government's view that the current arrangements already cover those areas to the extent that our port state jurisdiction extends that far under international law.
ACTING CHAIR: The question that I asked is: if we have all these fantastic laws, why did we have this monumental failure?
Mr Anderson : No-one would disagree in any way that the Brimble inquiry revealed that there was a state of affairs that needed some urgent action. But there has been quite a bit of action since then. In particular, there has been a lot of action in terms of developing international protocol. Police of different jurisdictions and the Federal Police have worked together to have clear arrangements for prompt investigation for dealing with matters such as preservation of evidence and things like that. That deals with a range of the failings that were noted by the coroner with respect to the immediate reaction. Some of the cruise lines have also taken action of their own with respect to matters that are within their domain and that they can deal with, such as the prompt reaction to any kind of offence or alleged offence that occurs on board the ships.
Dr STONE: Including a lot more training.
Mr Anderson : A lot more training. The answer is that there has been quite a good response. It is not a matter that really needs more laws. It was a matter that needed that kind of concerted action across jurisdictions, across police forces and by the industry itself.
ACTING CHAIR: Is there anything you would like to add, Ms Goodman
Ms Goodman : I think that covers it.
ACTING CHAIR: I am not an expert on this, but it seems like a web of very intricate laws, both in Australia and overseas. If UNCLOS prevents us from having stronger laws to deal with these kinds of situations, what is the benefit in being involved with UNCLOS?
Ms Goodman : UNCLOS generally establishes a very strong framework of legal regulation for the law of the sea around the world. Quite a lot of it operates on a customary basis, so even countries which are not party to it will comply with it.
ACTING CHAIR: Why doesn't the US participate?
Ms ROWLAND: They do not belong to any international treaties if they can help it.
Ms Goodman : The US do treat quite a lot of the UNCLOS as customary international law as well. In the particular space of crimes at sea, it is a factual reality that there are multiple forms of jurisdiction that exist because you have people from one country on boats flagged to another country sailing to a third country and with crew from the fourth country. Inescapably there are multiple forms of jurisdiction and we have to use the principles that we have at international law and our quite effective and comprehensive domestic framework to use our jurisdiction consistent with our international rights and obligations.
Mr Anderson : Australia is also actively involved in seeking to develop or help negotiate new standards to the extent that that is possible. These things take a while; UNCLOS itself was negotiated over 200 years. That is a side process because it is a multilateral process, but the Office of International Law is involved in discussions with other countries under the umbrella of the International Maritime Organisation. We are trying to look at the new standards. It is also important to bear in mind that we are seeing cases being brought in Australia, even where action occurred on foreign flag vessels and outside the 200 nautical miles. The current legal arrangements seem to be being put into effect.
Dr STONE: You told us that four matters were brought before you relating to cruise liners.
Mr Anderson : Three cruise liners and one merchant vessel.
Dr STONE: I was going to ask about merchant vessels, but that includes merchant vessels?
Mr Anderson : One non-cruise and three cruise.
Dr STONE: That is interesting. Do you gather statistics for how many alleged crimes or accidents have taken place from all of the state jurisdictions in relation to your information?
Mr Anderson : Certainly, those are the ones that we know of because they have been reported to us where the Attorney's consent is needed.
Ms Inverarity : No, is the simple answer, we do not receive reports, particularly if they are within the 12 nautical miles and it is not a foreign vessel. They would be reported directly to state and territory police who would maintain their own information systems, but they are not reported to the Commonwealth.
Dr STONE: Given that in the Brimble case there was some contest about whether the New South Wales coroner's jurisdiction was the right jurisdiction for where the case was heard and the use of the Crimes at Sea Act 2000, what is the difference between the two? Why would the parties involved have wanted to go through the Crimes at Sea Act rather than the coronial inquest process?
Mr Anderson : The Crimes at Sea Act is in relation to actually proceeding with the offence, whereas the coroner is not actually proceeding in relation to the offence. If there is an inquiry, there might be recommendations by the coroner that might lead to proceedings in relation to the offence, but it is not actually criminal proceedings in itself.
Dr STONE: Is there an advantage for someone with an alleged offence against them to try to pursue one avenue over another?
Mr Anderson : It is difficult to comment on the motives of persons of interest, but it certainly is unfortunately relatively common for people in that situation to seek to frustrate whatever proceedings are looking into the matters that it is alleged they have done .
Dr STONE: Are you satisfied that, as you have just described, even though there might be an attempt to frustrate processes, we have sufficient power in our system to use the right jurisdiction?
Mr Anderson : Yes, we are satisfied on that. Attempts to frustrate process are not limited to crimes at sea of course. I believe that the coroners themselves would agree that it is sufficiently clear which coroner will be able to take actions in relation to crimes at sea.
Dr STONE: We also were listening to evidence before about the need to have very close cooperation between the various states. The ship might have left Sydney and be arriving in Cairns and obviously crossing over into different state jurisdictions. Are you satisfied that maximum cooperation happens? Is this based on virtually a voluntary basis or do we need to have any further codifying of how that interaction takes place? Is it based on just the good fortune of the personalities involved on the day or do we need to do more to make sure that there is not any contest about whose jurisdiction it is and the cooperation that takes place?
Mr Anderson : Ultimately that is a matter for the operational agencies to say whether they believe it is working. From our perspective, at the one remove, it certainly seems to be working. It is of course more than just the personalities involved. You have a cooperative scheme itself underpinning the actual Crimes at Sea Act that reflects the agreement of all jurisdictions. Operational agencies pay attention to that. Then you have the national protocol actually signed by the commissioners as well. We think there is infrastructure already in place and our perception from the matters that we are aware of is that it is working.
Dr STONE: With regard to the national protocol, you are perfectly satisfied with it in terms of its content?
Mr Anderson : As far as we can judge, it appears to be appropriate. We are not the people to say what the police need to have rules about for the carrying out of operations and investigations, but it appears to provide everything it needs to provide and appears to be working.
Dr STONE: Thank you.
CHAIR: You say it 'appears to provide', do you have some statistics in terms of the number of prosecutions under the Crimes at Sea Act?
Mr Anderson : I mentioned earlier that there are four matters that have been referred in recent times—that is, in the past two years—but I do not think we have anything beyond that. We do not have further details here but we could provide those on notice.
CHAIR: That would be good.
Ms Inverarity : How far back would you like us to go? Files get a bit murky as we go further back but we can do our best—
CHAIR: 1995—would you go back that far?
Ms Inverarity : We will do our best.
Mr VASTA: Can I just ask about those forms: what type of—
Ms Inverarity : Yes, certainly. There was an incident on Christmas Day in 2010 aboard a P&O cruise ship, involving an Indonesian offender. The offence was an act of indecency with a minor and the victim was Australian. It was outside of the 200 nautical miles, some 50 or 100 nautical miles off New Caledonia. There were two foreign states with an interest: Indonesia as the nationality of the offender, and the United Kingdom as the P&O ship was registered there. The Attorney-General's consent was sought by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and consent was granted. There was another case, incident date—
Mr VASTA: Sorry, just further on that one: was there was a charge laid and then—
Ms Inverarity : We would have to go back and check. We do not normally get notified as to the success or failure of the relevant prosecution, but we can certainly get that information quite quickly if that is of interest.
CHAIR: Was that was an Australian victim?
Ms Inverarity : It was an Australian victim. I believe it was a 14-year-old girl, and it was an act of indecency by an Indonesian male.
CHAIR: So we are not necessarily told of the success or otherwise—
Mr Anderson : Our role is just about the Attorney's consent to the prosecution actually occurring in the first place—
Ms Inverarity : The prosecutors would then take it forward. That is consistent with other consent to prosecute requirements that we have, particularly across the Criminal Code. Our role usually stops at the water's edge when consent is given and then the independent prosecutor's role continues.
There was another matter—an incident which occurred on 31 October 2010—on a merchant vessel. It was a Pakistani offender and a Sri Lankan victim. The next port of call was the Northern Territory, which was why we had jurisdiction. The offence was assault occasioning bodily harm. I am not sure of the circumstances of that one, as to whether it was a fight between crewmates or whatever it was. In this case there were four states which could have had jurisdiction: Pakistan, Liberia—which I believe was the flag state of the vessel—Indonesia, because it occurred in the Java Sea, and Sri Lanka as well. Consent was granted in the case.
Just last year we had a matter which occurred on another P&O ship which was departing Sydney. This was in July 2012. The vessel was a UK flagged P&O ship, the accused was Australian and the victims in that case were Indian and Filipino. They were the staff of the vessel—
CHAIR: Was that a merchant—
Ms Inverarity : No, this was a cruise ship. I remember the circumstances of this one. It was a man who had become quite intoxicated, had become involved in aggressive behaviour in the bar and had indecently exposed himself as well. He was being pursued by the New South Wales police for a number of offences under their Crimes Act and Summary Offences Act in the assault and obscene behaviour territory. That one was actually within 12 nautical miles of New South Wales. The UK was consulted as the flag state and consent was granted in that one.
CHAIR: So the Commonwealth Attorney-General gives consent, even though it is inside—
Ms Inverarity : That is correct. Because it is a foreign ship. Then we have a current matter which we are processing at the moment where consent has not been determined. This was also on a cruise ship—a Royal Caribbean cruise ship—where the vessel flag is the Bahamas, and we are the start of the process of considering this one. The alleged offences are the possession of a prohibited drug and a prohibited weapon. This was an Australian male who had a belt buckle with a concealed knife in it which became apparent, I believe, again, in a bar. We are yet to process that one. It did occur within 25 nautical miles of New South Wales. We will be proceeding with that one. I should have mentioned in the second case with the merchant vessel that it was the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions who sought our consent in that manner, and in the last one it was the New South Wales police who sought our consent. For the first three we will take on notice the outcome of those prosecutions and get back to you on that.
Mr VASTA: When you think about how many people go onto a ship and all of the kinds of incidents, they are quite small really, aren't they? Four reported—
Ms Inverarity : Four in two years.
Mr VASTA: That is interesting Thank you for sharing that.
CHAIR: Obviously, we should never use just reported crimes as an indication of crimes. We have had compelling evidence of the number of unreported crimes and a culture of not reporting crimes even though we have heard contradictory evidence. I am sorry I was not here for the question about the US Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, which we will just call the Kerry Act for discussion purposes. I heard your answer to the question from the secretary, but would like you to comment on how something like the Kerry Act would further assist the authorities in terms of achieving prosecutions?
Mr Anderson : One of the advantages for the US of the Kerry Act is that it does apply limitations on certain vessels arriving at American ports, and that is something that currently we cannot do because we are a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which prevents us from passing laws that deal with the manning and equipment of foreign flagged vessels. While it might be of assistance to prosecuting authorities in one sense, and it might be of assistance in terms of helping to prevent offences occurring, in our view it is beyond Australia's power to pass because of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.
CHAIR: So we have to—
Mr Anderson : We have arrangements already under our laws, supported by the national protocol between policing forces of Australia. And something that I mentioned as well when you are out of the room was that Australia is also actively involved in other international fora dealing with the rules of the sea, seeking to discuss what the standards are and whether standards should continue to evolve to take into account the kinds of matters that have been reported to the committee.
Mrs MOYLAN: The International Maritime Organization, I understand, is currently examining the development of global guidelines on preserving evidence—because this was clearly one of the major failures in the Brimble case—of crimes at sea and caring for victims of crime. Do you know whether Australian delegates have submitted any comments or proposals to the IMO Legal Committee on the guidelines?
Ms Goodman : The UK together with the Cruise Lines International Association and a number of industry organisations have sponsored this proposal and we expect it to be considered at the IMO Legal Committee next month, April. Australia actively participates in the IMO Legal Committee and Australia's engagement is led by our office. At the last meeting, in April 2012, Australia was supportive of the guidelines being included on the committee's work program. But they are at an early stage of development at the moment and we are currently consulting with relevant departments and agencies internally about the proposals in the course of our preparations for the April meeting. Unfortunately I am unable to give you any more details about where the process is at—
Mrs MOYLAN: If the meeting is in April, I do not know when it would be useful to have a report back from the department. Perhaps we can check that to see whether we can include whatever the outcome of that is in our report.
Ms Goodman : We can certainly report back on that.
Mr NEUMANN: In the government's response to the recommendation from the New South Wales Coroner on the inquest into the death of Dianne Brimble, they are a bit more cautious—as you said today—on adopting the Kerry Act. On page 7 it says:
Adopting the Kerry Act may be inconsistent or in conflict with Australia’s existing international maritime obligations—
You are saying that it is, definitely.
Mr Anderson : My colleague from International Law might need to jump in here. In a nutshell, international law is not necessarily completely clear at times so it is appropriate to use words like 'may'. But to sum it up, our view is that it would be inconsistent.
Ms Goodman : I think that what you can see from the overview of the way other states have put into effect crimes at sea regulations that came out in the various submissions is that every state takes a different approach to the extent of their rights and obligations under international law, and certainly in implementing international obligations, states have that right and obligation to do so. From the government's perspective, the way the Kerry Act is implemented in the United States is not a way that we would see our rights and obligations sitting under UNCLOS and customary international law. As we were explaining before, it is a question of balancing the rights that we have as a port state against our obligations towards, and the rights of, flag states in various areas. As Mr Anderson said, there are a number of areas in which we already have similar or related regulations but we do not think it would be appropriate on the basis of our port state jurisdiction to implement the Kerry Act provisions.
CHAIR: Do we have any bilateral agreements with flag states with regards to crimes against Australian citizens?
Ms Goodman : Not to my knowledge, not in terms of assuming reporting protocols—not that I know of.
CHAIR: The list of flag states isn't that big, is it?
Ms Goodman : I do not have any specialist knowledge in the area of bilateral treaties with flag states on cruise liners. Perhaps the Department of Transport and Infrastructure may be able to help you more with that. I do not know of any treaties.
Mr NEUMANN: In the Kerry Act there are some mandatory aspects of reporting, aren't there? I think in the government's response to the New South Wales Coroner there were some comments about the fact that people should report. We are saying that there are mandatory obligations to report crimes in respect of Australian law here. Are we saying that there are no mandatory aspects? Are we saying that you just should report.
Ms Inverarity : I guess it is similar to jurisdiction on land in that regard. You are not under an obligation to report that you have been the victim of crime unless you wish to seek police assistance. I do not believe that it is any different. Nobody is forced to report a crime.
Mr NEUMANN: Because they are saying if there is a departing jurisdiction, an arriving jurisdiction or a jurisdiction in which the victim resides then you should report it but not much beyond that. Isn't there a deficiency somewhere here in our law?
Mr Anderson : As my colleague said, that is the state if it happens on land as well. We think people certainly should report but some people, for whatever reason, seem to choose not to.
Mr NEUMANN: If we adopted a Kerry type legislation or regime, are there any gaps that would be filled in our law where you could say: 'We've sorted that bit out.'
Mr Anderson : If we believed that we could in fact enact something like the Kerry act then it would put some matters more beyond doubt. So, yes, it would fill some gaps but the question is: do we actually have the power to do that?
Mr NEUMANN: What matters would it correct beyond doubt?
Mr Anderson : We do not currently have anything that actually places obligations in terms of the design, equipment and training and things like that of people on cruise ships.
Dr STONE: You mean the height of the railings or where the cameras are placed—that sort of thing?
Mr Anderson : And what happens to film in cameras and who has access to the film—all of those sorts of things. We do not have anything that currently places obligations like that.
Mr NEUMANN: Is there anything about sexual assault reports and things like that? Do we have anything that says they have to report this sort of thing?
Mr Anderson : I do not believe so.
Ms Inverarity : Apart from the obligation on some professions to report child sexual abuse, I do not think there is anything similar to that.
CHAIR: Even then, if you were a doctor—and I assume in New South Wales you are obliged to report.
Ms Inverarity : Teachers and people like that.
Dr STONE: There is the rape kit issue.
CHAIR: If you are a doctor and you are 201 miles out, are you still—
Ms Inverarity : On a foreign ship.
Ms Inverarity : That is the challenge.
CHAIR: I am wondering whether you have to be a doctor everywhere in the world or whether you are a doctor inside New South Wales.
Ms Inverarity : Inside of New South Wales jurisdiction.
Mr NEUMANN: What other things would it clear up that are currently in doubt?
Mr Anderson : Those are probably the main things: things to do with the crew, the ship; what sort of crew; what sort of training; physical safety; matters such as barriers; surveillance matters; and then how incidents on board ship should actually be responded to.
Mr NEUMANN: Logbooks and reporting and the like.
Mr Anderson : All that sort of thing. In terms of logbooks, AMSA, the Maritime Safety Authority and the department of transport might actually have some regulation there. I am sorry; I cannot actually speak to those.
Mr NEUMANN: I am trying to get my head around if there is any doubt here. I am not sure whether we have to look further, whether it is inconsistent but, if it is not inconsistent and there is an area of doubt—lots of laws exist on our statute books that have never been challenged in courts—and it clears up some problem, why wouldn't we go down that road?
Mr Anderson : As a general rule, Australia will only do things if it thinks it has got the power to do it. So while under international law it is never quite cut and dried, we think that the balance is very much in terms of saying, 'We do not have the power to do it,' regardless of the fact that we would address some of these issues. At the same time, there are things that can be done beyond laws of course. The industry itself has a strong interest in actually taking action and they have taken a range of actions since Mrs Brimble's death. I think that it is really important that the industry continues to take action, given the number of people who travel on cruise ships. They have a strong commercial interest in ensuring that that sort of matter does not occur again. I think inquiries such as this also help bring moral suasion upon the industry to continue to take action.
Mr NEUMANN: They were pretty variable. Some of them were pretty arrogant the way they gave evidence to this inquiry. Some of them were fine but some of them were really up themselves on this stuff to be honest with you. I was really unimpressed with some of the evidence we got from some of the industry. Some of the representatives were quite genuine in my view and they outlined real steps they have taken, but the disdain that we saw from one or two of them was appalling.
CHAIR: The problem with self-regulation, which is effectively what we are talking about, is that you have a billion dollar industry where much of the brand says, 'You will be safe'. They hate stories suggesting that they are not safe when ships sink, and obviously a rape or a child being molested are not stories that a captain wants out on their watch.
Mr Anderson : Absolutely not.
CHAIR: That is the problem with this sort of self-regulation—the opportunity for cover-up. We have pretty compelling evidence from someone who had been involved in security on a ship—
Mr NEUMANN: For decades.
CHAIR: Yes, who said that the culture was to cover up, to make it go away, and to appease the victim and even the assailant wherever possible. This was not about a murder, but the evidence was pretty compelling. Mr Anderson, do you want to respond to this?
Mr Anderson : Given that, matters are actually being prosecuted under Australian law. It might be that people do not understand that Australian law does actually, and can actually, be applied to matters in a range of circumstances.
Mr NEUMANN: Do you deal with the industry? The industry seemed not to have any contact with the victims of crime organisations and organisations that allow compensation in, say, Queensland, or elsewhere. They were living in this little world of their own and they had no contact with the people outside. Does the government have contact with the industry and say, 'Listen, you are subject to Australian law in this sort of area and you have got state and territory obligations as well as federal obligations.'?
Mr Anderson : I am sure that the government does, but that would actually be through the transport portfolio. That is a matter that we can certainly pass to them.
Mr NEUMANN: But does your department have any contact with them at all?
Mr Anderson : Very rarely.
Ms Inverarity : Not to my knowledge.
Dr STONE: You mentioned that four matters have come to you in the last two years—three cruise, minor-related, and one merchant-related. How many of those did you agree to have carried forward for prosecution, and how long does that process take? You mentioned that you have got one now.
Ms Inverarity : There is one ongoing.
Dr STONE: How long does it usually take?
Ms Inverarity : It depends on how long the diplomatic process takes in getting the views of the other countries with an interest. Usually, it is a matter of months.
Dr STONE: So it could take months?
Ms Inverarity : Between us being informed that someone wishes the Attorney-General's consent and the Attorney-General actually signing the instrument of consent can take a couple of months.
Dr STONE: Is that a problem then in terms of actual prosecution by a state police authority or the Federal Police?
Ms Inverarity : We have never had any complaints. It is pretty common for consent to prosecute to take that amount of time in doing the relevant consultation and weighing up the factors, providing the advice and having the minister consider it. It does not usually delay a prosecution. We usually get informed, but at an early stage in the prosecution or even before it has commenced. Then we would usually be informed of the next hearing date and do everything we can to make sure that the Attorney-General's consent is turned around before then. But usually it can be adjourned until a later point in time. In the context of the criminal justice system, it is not a large delaying factor that we have been informed of.
Dr STONE: So it is not a case of the cruise line staff, for example, being involved and the ship is long gone halfway around the world and it is too expensive to prosecute and gather and keep evidence and talk to witnesses?
Ms Inverarity : Not that I am aware of in the crimes at sea context. There are consent to prosecute provisions in other statutes such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act. We have had a case where there was an incident in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the master of the vessel is no longer within Australia's territory so there are complexities that arise there. As far as I am aware—
CHAIR: Is that the Chinese guy? I thought he did appear in court.
Ms Inverarity : It is proceeding, but it adds an additional layer of complexity if the person is no longer in our jurisdiction. That is separate to crimes at sea.
Mr Anderson : There might be issues of extradition and things like that.
Ms Inverarity : That is right.
CHAIR: I was going to ask about that in terms of custody while someone is perhaps not even charged. None of the crimes you have talked about—although one was reasonably serious wasn't it, the two young girls—
Ms Inverarity : The two most recent ones were Australian offenders. They live here, they can be summonsed to appear before a court or arrested at whatever point in time is necessary. The other two were slightly longer ago. One of them was an act of indecency against a minor.
CHAIR: So they would appear in custody?
Ms Inverarity : We would have to check those details as to whether they were remanded within Australia. We can check and get back to you on that.
Mr VASTA: Has organised crime targeted any of the cruise liners? Have there been incidents where thefts occur? Are safes that type of thing?
Ms Inverarity : The ones we have seen have been drunken incidents of individual violence.
Mr Anderson : As my colleague says, the ones that have been reported to us have been issues between individuals and typically drunken individuals or a drunken offender and another individual. They have not been teams and organised crimes.
Mr VASTA: In cruise liners do you not go down the alleyways at night as there could be people waiting for you?
Mr Anderson : It is not robbery or fraud and things like that.
CHAIR: In fact, the insurance industry suggested, not in formal evidence, that most of the incidents they dealt with were claims when the passengers are off the ship in the ports. They go for a swim and leave their bag. The ships were the safer places for insurance purposes.
Mr NEUMANN: The government's response said that the requirements of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, in terms of training of personnel and certification for security personnel are the equivalent of the Kerry Act in the United States. But we have had a lot of criticism, including by very high ranking security personnel who have worked in this industry, that it is very easy to get the relevant ticket to say you are a security personnel officer and work for the cruise industry. Is your understanding that the Kerry Act and our own requirements are similar in terms of training of personnel for security purposes on, say, P&O?
Mr Anderson : The government response did involve a cooperative effort across departments and that content would have come from the Department of Transport. They are in a position to give that assurance. We are not in a position to give that assurance.
Mr NEUMANN: I just wanted to know whether your opinion was the same as the government's response on that.
Mr Anderson : That is the government's opinion that it is sufficiently equivalent. I agree the regulation of security professionals can often be contentious and there have been allegations made from time to time about the way in which different domestic jurisdictions approach that. There have been suggestions that not all jurisdictions are as rigorous as perhaps they could be. That is a concern. In terms of the regulations that AMSA and Transport apply, they have to take security clearances as they find them. That is a matter that is regulated by states and territories.
CHAIR: Can we submit some questions on notice to you? We will make contact to get those answered in due course.
Committee adjourned at 0 9:33