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New customs house at Broome opened

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The step-up in Customs operations in the North-West of Australia to counter smuggling and other illegal activities reached a new stage today uhen the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Ual. Fife, opened a neu Customs House at Broome.

The official opening is part of an extensive tour by the Minister of Customs outposts on the North-West and West Coast of Australia including Port Hedland, Dampier and Geraldton.

The neu building, costing $360,000, has been designed to provide additional facilities required by the Bureau of Customs in an upgrading of its activities in the area.

"The opening of the Customs House is additional to the Government's initiatives, announced last year, to stamp out illicit traffic in dangerous drugs," Mr Fife said.

"High speed ocean-going Customs launches are presently located at Broome and Geraldton and a further vessel is scheduled to be transferred to Port Hedland in July this year. These vessels are specifically designed for Customs surveillance and patrol work.

"In addition, Broome has become a major centre in a recently commissioned radio communications network which provides direct links for Customs land, sea and air patrol vehicles operating in the area," the Minister said. ·

"It is also expected that an aircraft on full-time charter for Customs response and enforcement tasks will be available at Port Hedland within the next few months.

"This aircraft will be one of three to be strategically located in Northern Australia. In the meantime, the Department is using part-time charter aircraft as required."

Mr Fife said the new Customs House had been designed to accommodate an increase in staff to eleven, as well as provide all the facilities required in maintaining the Customs surveillance needs in the area.

"Customs has been associated with Broome since 1884 when it first became a Customs port," Mr Fife said. "The original Customs House, built of wood and iron in about 1889 with a brick Queen's warehouse, was demolished in the 1960s. Customs operations were

transferred to the Queen's warehouse shortly after the war and remained there until this year."

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Mr Fife said a considerable increase in workload for Customs officers stationed in.Broome had occurred in recent years with the growth of the beef and pearl farming industries, and the vital search for oil and gas off the North-West shelf.

The new Customs House would be able to handle all fore­ seeable expansion in the area for the immediate future, he said.

The Minister said that it was significant that the new Customs House was being opened just under 100 years since the first Customs representation in the area was established, and in the year that Western Australia is celebrating the 150th Anniversary of its settlement.

BROOME, W. A. 18 April 1979

For further information: Trevor Wright - 724513 (Canberra) A. H . 950901 .