Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
New boats for Torres Strait to boost anti-drugs fight.

Download WordDownload Word





The Hon. Warren Truss, MP

Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs

Deputy Leader of the House


22 July 1998





Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs, Warren Truss, has today announced a contract for four new Customs ready-response boats for the Torres Strait as a further part of enhancing Australia’s fight against illicit drugs.


Mr Truss said the new vessels will be built in Cairns by Cairns Custom Craft Pty Ltd at a total cost of $176,000.


“The Federal Coalition Government is committed to fighting the menace of illicit drugs and these new Customs boats will help meet that commitment,” Mr Truss said.


“The 6-metre boats are part of the Government’s commitment to upgrade surveillance and response capabilities in the Torres Strait under the Tough on Drugs strategy announced by the Prime Minister in November last year,” Mr Truss said.


“They are part of a $7.8-million package over four years under the strategy which will enhance border control capacity in the Torres Strait area. The craft will be crewed by Torres Strait Islanders and will help to enhance skills and employment opportunities for local people.


The aluminium-hulled boats will be powered by two 70-horsepower outboard motors, have a range of 150 nautical miles and a cruise speed of 25 knots. The boats will be equipped with navigation aids including a global positioning system and integrated depth sounders. The boats can carry up to five officers during normal operations.


Total value of the contract with Customs is about $176 000. The boats will be introduced into service in September and October this year.


Cairns Custom Craft has recently built a similar half-cabin version of the boat for the Royal Australian Navy in the Torres Strait area.


“The new boats will enhance Customs ability to respond quickly to suspected violations of our border,” Mr Truss said. “They will be based on Mabuiag, Saibai, Darnley and Coconut Islands, providing effective coverage across this key region.


“Local island people will be trained as Customs aides to maintain the vessels in a state of readiness and to act as drivers or crew during operations where their local knowledge of these reef -strewn seas will be particularly valuable.


"The Government’s Tough on Drugs Torres Strait upgrade initiatives also include provision for 500 additional flying hours per year for the Coastwatch helicopter and strategic positioning of lit helicopter landing facilities. These enhancements will improve the capacity for Customs and other government agencies to move quickly into areas of threat.”





Andrew Hall - Media Adviser - 02 6277 7790; 0419 996 766 

Email:   Web sites:

Ref CMR 1219