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Monday, 26 May 2008
Page: 3099

Mr BURKE (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (3:35 PM) —Mr Speaker, I seek the indulgence of the chair to add to an answer provided to the House on the last sitting day, 15 May.

The SPEAKER —The minister may proceed.

Mr BURKE —As I reported in my previous statement to parliament, there were 55 foreign fishers from nine vessels, who had been apprehended by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority during a sweep in late April, which were found to have not been fishing illegally. Adult crew members apprehended by AFMA were accommodated in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre. Six juveniles among this group had been accommodated outside the centre, as is standard practice. Upon being notified by AFMA that charges would not be laid against the crews of those nine vessels, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship worked promptly towards the removal and repatriation of the affected crews.

In accordance with the standard practice that juveniles are repatriated as a priority along with their adult minders as soon as travel documents and flights can be arranged, four fishers—two juveniles and two of their adult minders—were returned to Indonesia on 10 May 2008; six fishers—three juveniles and three adult minders—were returned on 15 May 2008; and 43 fishers including one juvenile and one minder were returned on 17 May 2008. This leaves two fishers who are not fit to travel and who require medical treatment before they are fit to do so. This treatment is scheduled for 3 June this year. I take this opportunity to again note the cooperation and assistance of the Indonesian government, particularly the Indonesian consulate in Darwin, who have been of great assistance in expediting travel documents for this group.