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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3602


Ms Julie Bishop asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 18 March 2009:

(1)   Is he aware of any request from the Japanese Government for Australian Federal Police to raid the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s vessel in Hobart in early 2009; if so, what are the details.

(2)   Did he have prior knowledge of the decision of the Australian Federal Police to raid the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s vessel in Hobart in early 2009; if so, how did he respond.


Mr Stephen Smith (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   The execution of the search warrant was an operational decision of the AFP. The AFP undertook preliminary inquiries in relation to incidents which were alleged to have occurred at sea between the Japanese whaling fleet and the Steve Irwin in response to a formal request from Japanese authorities on 17 February 2009 for Australia to investigate the alleged incidents. As a result of the referral and in accordance with Australia’s domestic obligations under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (1993) (SUA Convention) the AFP commenced enquiries in relation to alleged violations of Australian domestic law.

(2)   I was briefed on 20 February 2009, the day the AFP executed its search warrant on the vessel, by a ministerial submission from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. That submission was for my information only and did not seek any decision by me. I noted the submission.