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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21899

Mr McClelland asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 18 September 2003:

(Please note that after due consideration and as agreed with ACS, this question has now been taken over by DoTARS on behalf of the Minister for Transport and Regional Services).

What measures has the Minister taken since 11 September 2001 to ensure that security has been increased at major Australian ports and waterways?

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

As a result of the heightened awareness of security issues surrounding the international maritime industry following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed a new preventive maritime security regime to enhance security at ports, port facilities and on board ships. The Australian Government has actively supported the IMO action to strengthen global maritime security through amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and its companion International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which comes into effect from 1 July 2004.

On 18 September 2003 I introduced into Parliament the Maritime Transport Security Bill 2003, which gives effect to the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code requirements in Australia. The Bill establishes the framework for a nationally consistent preventive security regime to guide the Australian maritime industry towards compliance with the IMO requirements. The Bill also sets out a nationally consistent enforcement regime, which is supported by appropriate penalties for non-compliance. The introduction of the Bill follows consultations with an array of stakeholders, including State and Northern Territory Governments, their marine authorities and peak maritime industry bodies.

Preventive security for ports and waterways is presently a State and Territory Government responsibility. However, in order to ensure security arrangements at Australia's ports and on our waterways prior to the introduction of the new maritime security regime, my Department has liaised extensively with State and Northern Territory Governments, their police forces and the maritime industry. My Department has promoted security awareness, practices and procedures, as well as provided draft guidance material to assist the maritime industry to conduct security risk assessments and to develop draft security plans required by the proposed legislation.

The Government's serious and comprehensive approach to building strong border protection strategies is reflected in:

the $15.6 million allocated in the 2003-04 budget over the next two years to tighten Australia's port and maritime security;

the progressive implementation by Customs of new container examination facilities in the ports of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle; and

the installation of high-speed satellite communications equipment to Coastwatch aircraft, that provides for the high-speed transmission of real-time data and imagery between surveillance aircraft and the Coastwatch National Surveillance Centre.