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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7757


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (4:09 PM) —by leave—On behalf of all opposition senators, the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Bartlett, and all Australian Democrat senators, and Senators Brown, Nettle, Lees, Harradine and Murphy, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes the evidence presented to the Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident regarding the central role played by the person known as Abu Quessai in organising people smuggling operations in Indonesia;

(b) welcomes the statement by the Australian Federal Police that they have issued a further warrant for the arrest of Quessai, in relation to his involvement in people smuggling specifically in relation to the vessel known as SIEV X;

(c) further notes that the issue of this warrant indicates the strength of evidence linking Quessai with the people smuggling aspects of SIEV X, including the procurement of the vessel, the recruiting of crew, the provision of passage on the vessel in return for payment, the loading of the vessel (including the gross overloading), and the departure of the vessel bound for Australia;

(d) further notes that Abu Quessai is currently in prison in Indonesia for unrelated immigration offences, and is due to be released on 1 January 2003, with a high risk of him remaining out of reach of Australian legal authorities after that time; and therefore

(e) calls on the Australian and Indonesian Governments to undertake all actions necessary prior to 1 January 2003 to ensure that Abu Quessai is immediately brought to justice:

(i) on all matters relating to the outstanding warrants relating to people smuggling, and

(ii) in relation to his involvement with the vessel known as SIEV X, including the foundering and sinking of that vessel with the resultant tragic loss of 353 lives.

This motion welcomes the statement by the Australian Federal Police that they have issued a further warrant for the arrest of Abu Qussey in relation to his involvement in people-smuggling, specifically in relation to the vessel known as SIEVX. It also expresses concern that all avenues be exhausted. The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison, assured me at the last round of Senate estimates that the Indonesian government was likely to introduce legislation making people-smuggling an offence which would be used to expedite Abu Qussey's extradition. This is now most unlikely. Whilst I accept that the parliament cannot scrutinise the brief of evidence against Abu Qussey at this stage, given the details about these warrants, several questions can still be answered and remain unaddressed.

Details of why the Australian Federal Police have been unable to establish the location of where SIEVX sank is one example. Details of limited progress with the Indonesian government despite our government's earlier confidence remain unanswered. Details of the Attorney-General's advice as to jurisdictional considerations remain unanswered. All of these questions were raised at the last estimates round and remain unanswered. The government must demonstrate to the Senate, to the parliament and to the Australian public that it has exhausted all avenues regarding this crime of such large magnitude.