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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 292


Senator WATSON(6.18) —I support the remarks of my colleagues Senators Sir John Carrick and Rae. I draw the Senate's attention to the role that has been played by a number of senators on both sides of the chamber. Again, I specifically mention Senators Rae and Sir John Carrick. At the same time I must also mention the role played by the honourable member for Bass, the Hon. Kevin Newman. I comment tonight principally on some of the remarks by our Queensland colleague because I believe that he has got some incorrect impressions. Those incorrect impressions were not gained as a result of a personal visit to the Australian Maritime College at either of its major establishments or as a result of travelling on one of the many sophisticated fishing vessels, principally the Bluefin, but as the result of an off the cuff remark by a fisherman.

As my colleague Senator Rae has mentioned, the college offers a wide range of facilities and courses, some very short and others very much more sophisticated and at the top level. What the previous speakers have mentioned is quite correct . The Australian fishing industry does need a major upgrading. It does require a greater degree of sophistication. We cannot allow this industry to stay in the dark ages; it must be uplifted. It is true that there are some very sophisticated techniques. I was present at the opening of the flume tank, which is one of the best in the world. In its sophistication it enables the most humble fisherman to learn how better to set his nets. It shows the ordinary fisherman, be he from Mackay or from Oyster Cove, how to set his nets relative to different forms of currents, to the actions of waves and to the actions of the sea. Not only can this save the fisherman a lot of money in trawling but also it can greatly increase his catch. This is what the college is all about. My colleagues have already said that Australia has not in the past done quite as well as a number of other countries. The establishment of this college was to help rectify this.

The downturn in the maritime industry was mentioned. This does not really have a major impact on this college. It is significant, but it will not wreck the college. What is important is that there are other institutions or other developments, for instance, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Customs Service. All these bodies are sending people to this college because of its value to them and their enterprises. The Customs Service has fellows going out in boats. Their lives are at risk. They have to perform an important duty in stopping the drug trade and this is often done in hazardous conditions. Their survival depends upon their ability to handle boats in different conditions. I suggest that honourable senators opposite go down to Beauty Point to see some of the operations there or go out to Newnham and see the sophisticated pool, the sorts of equipment there and how best to use the equipment. So often, fishermen and other mariners go out to sea inadequately prepared in relation to the aids that are now available. This provides a focal point where people are encouraged to come from all over Australia and, as Senator Rae said, from all over the world now, because of its sophistication. I take this opportunity of expressing the appreciation for the lead this college has given under the direction of Captain Waters. It is growing. I believe it has a great future and it has a very wide use within the maritime industry of Australia.