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Reform of maritime enforcement legislation.

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Joint Media Release

Attorney-General Robert McClelland MP

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor MP

15 September 2009


The Australian Government today announced legislative reforms to enhance Australia’s ability to respond to maritime security threats.

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said the Government will introduce new legislation to provide a clear and simple set of maritime enforcement powers.

Currently there are over 35 separate pieces of Commonwealth legislation that contain maritime enforcement powers. These Acts often differ from one another in terms of the types of powers they contain, the form of those powers, and the procedures associated with them.

The proposed Maritime Powers Bill will bring together these disparate powers and bring Australia’s operational and legal arrangements into alignment, by:

• establishing comprehensive powers, including interdiction, boarding, search, seizure and retention of vessels;

• ensuring a common enforcement approach to promote coordination between agencies; and

• creating a mechanism to implement and enforce international agreements that have a maritime aspect.

The Bill will provide a unified and comprehensive suite of powers that will be available to enforce a diverse range of Australia’s laws, including illegal foreign fishing, customs, quarantine and drug trafficking.

It is anticipated that the legislation will be developed for introduction in the first half of 2010.

These reforms will strengthen Australia’s ability to effectively respond to existing and emerging maritime threats and place us at the international forefront in our approach to maritime enforcement.

Media Contact: Adam Siddique (McClelland) 0407 473 630 Christian Taubenschlag (O’Connor) 0438 595 567