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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6196

Mr RANDALL (5:24 PM) —In relation to maritime matters, I would like to ask some questions of the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. I refer to his report Rebuilding Australia’s coastal shipping industry: i nquiry into coastal shipping policy and regulation tabled in October 2008—I will not go through where it took hearings et cetera—to Infrastructure Australia’s National infrastructure priorities report, released in May 2009, which discussed the development of a national port strategy; and to the minister’s speech on 5 June 2009, where he indicated the government would rewrite the Navigation Act.

I ask the minister the following questions. With regard to your flagged amendments to the Navigation Act, when will the government announce what particular changes it will be implementing? Specifically, what consultation will be undertaken with industry in the formulation of amendments to the Navigation Act; when will the government’s response to the 14 recommendations made by the coastal shipping inquiry be finalised; and when will it be made public? The coastal shipping inquiry has recommended the creation of a national port strategy. When will this be finalised and when will it be made public?

In terms of maritime security, Minister, I refer to the fact that the maritime security identification cards, or MSICs, overseen by the Office of Transport Security are causing a lot of concern in our water protection regime. There are many concerns, including about people with suspect criminal histories being allowed in sensitive maritime security zones. Some of these people have links with organised crime, especially bikie syndicates, and there is a lack of monitoring of personnel in maritime security zones. Questions in estimates revealed that the OTS is reluctant to advise how many MSIC holders have criminal records, but media reports estimate it to be 10 per cent. The OTS has confirmed that 42 people have received an MSIC on appeal. This means that 42 people allowed in maritime security zones have a maritime related offence on their criminal record. Twenty-four others were granted approval with conditions. Currently, the department is undertaking a review of the MSIC.

Minister, the questions are: can you advise what maritime security related offences the 42 MSIC applicants that failed their AusCheck security clearance but were granted an MSIC on appeal by your department committed; why did your department think it fit to give access to sensitive maritime security zones to applicants deemed to be unfit by AusCheck; what is the current status of the review of the maritime security identification cards; and when will it be finalised and made public?