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Coastguard would do a better job.



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Hon Arch Bevis MP Federal Member for Brisbane Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Aviation and Transport Security

COASTGUARD WOULD DO A BETTER JOB

Labor welcomes the announcement that the first Customs Bay-class patrol vessel has been fitted with a machine gun.

Shadow Minister for Homeland Security Arch Bevis said Labor has been calling for some time for action by the Howard Government on the haphazard situation for disabling fleeing suspect boats.

Mr Bevis said: “We have had a situation where Customs and Fisheries vessels were empowered by legislation to fire on fleeing suspected illegal vessels in Australian waters but did not have the weaponry to do so.

“Meanwhile, our naval vessels have the weaponry to fire on fleeing vessels but have rules of engagement that constrain them from doing it.

“In spite of all of the Government’s rhetoric, today’s development means that there is a grand total of one ship which is armed and authorised to stop illegal ships fleeing Australian waters.

“Nearly four years after 11th September, that is a damning indictment of the Howard Government’s neglect of homeland security.”

Mr Bevis added: “While the arming of the Corio Bay is welcomed, it is a long way short of Labor’s proposed Coastguard which would dramatically improve maritime law enforcement and border security.”

15th July, 2005

Further information: Rodney Kendall 0409 374 900