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Tuesday, 3 June 2003
Page: 15912

Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 13 February 2003:

(1) Did he or his Department ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to exercise his powers under section 33 (2)(b)(ii) of the Migration Act to establish a new type of Special Purpose Visa category for crews on vessels operating under single and continuous voyage permits:

(2) In what way, if any, will this impact on the issuance of single and continuing voyage permits.

(3) Will vessel operators working the coast on a continuing voyage permit issued for six months be required to exit Australian waters after the expiration of crews special purpose visas after three months, if not why not.

(4) Will a new limit of three months be set for continuing voyage permits.

(5) Does this decision indicate that his Department has been remiss by continuing to issue permits to create a situation that did not clearly adhere to all Australian laws, such as immigration law.

(6) How does the introduction of this new category of visa ensure that coastal trading is not opened up in such a way as to remove opportunities for Australian workers as stated by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

Mr Anderson (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Discussions between Ministers are confidential. Discussions between officials during 2002 were aimed at clarifying the administration of the Navigation Act 1912 and the Migration Act 1958.

(2) and (4) Single and continuing voyage permits will continue to be issued in accordance with the Navigation Act 1912. Continuing voyage permits will be issued for a maximum of 3 months duration.

(3) Existing six month permits will not be changed. However, new continuing voyage permits are issued for three months, with a condition that non-citizen crew hold visas for the period of the permit provided the ship leaves Australia at least once in every three month period.

(5) No.

(6) The introduction of the new category of visa does not affect the longstanding legislative requirements that coasting trade permits may only be issued where no licensed vessel is available to carry the cargo, and the issue of a permit is in the public interest.