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Wednesday, 20 May 1970

Mr KILLEN (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for the Navy) - In short, yes, there is. The matter is regulated by the convention on the high seas and deals with the doctrine of hot pursuit. I have no wish to infringe the proper function of question time so I will excuse myself and answer as crisply as I can the question raised by the honourable member. The doctrine of hot pursuit governs a customary practice in international law which has now been codified in Article 23 of the convention on the high seas. The term 'hot pursuit1 is a term of art and it is a doctrine of the utmost importance to Australia. If I may take the simple proposition of a foreign owned fishing vessel seen to be fishing in territorial waters, for example off the coast of Queenslands-say, 2 miles from the coast. Assume that this vessel then moves outside the territorial waters. The doctrine of hot pursuit would enable a warship, or a military aircraft or a ship specifically authorised by the Government to follow it, to follow that vessel. The doctrine of hot pursuit, I point out in view of the current interest in the territorial sea, is available only to a state which is a state in international law. The doctrine must be applied immediately; there can be no breaking off of the pursuit. An auditory or visual signal must bc given to the ship and there must be complete observance of all the code's provisions which are contained in Article 23. Failure to observe any of those provisions could lead to damages against the coastal state, which in the case of Australia would be the Commonwealth and not the State of Queensland. It underlines, if I may say with respect, one of the least observed aspects of current controversy on the territorial sea.

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