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Wednesday, 24 March 2004
Page: 21890


Senator Ludwig asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 2 March 2004:

(1) Do the crews aboard Bay class Australian Customs Service (ACS) launches receive training specifically for boarding vessels with the consent of the masters of those vessels.

(2) Is this training conducted by ACS.

(3) Was the training package for this role designed by ACS; if not, who designed the training package.

(4) Do the crews aboard these launches receive training specifically for boarding vessels without the consent of the masters of those vessels.

(5) Is this training conducted by ACS.

(6) Was the training package for this role designed by ACS; if not, who designed the training package.


Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Customs National Marine Unit (NMU) seagoing crewmembers onboard Bay Class Australian Customs Vessels (ACVs) receive initial and annual Use of Force training which prepares them to conduct vessel boardings. This training prepares them to undertake `compliant' (consensual) and `unco-operative' boardings only. Current policy does not allow NMU seagoing crewmembers to board vessels considered `hostile'. Hostile boardings are those that surpass both compliant and unco-operative boardings where a target vessel's crew or others onboard are acting in an overtly hostile manner. In essence a hostile boarding can be described as one where the use of force, including lethal force, in order to secure control of a vessel during a boarding may be expected. NMU Use of Force policy and training is designed so that officers are prepared to deliver Use of Force options in self-defence situations, where they may be called upon to defend themselves or others they are protecting.

(2) In part yes. Training is based primarily upon, and very closely aligned to, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) `Use of Force continuum' model. AFP officers deliver training with the assistance of NMU officers. Training is also very closely aligned with peacetime Rules of Engagement (ROE) policy adopted by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) when conducting the same civil surveillance and response activities. AFP officers, supported by NMU officers, deliver both initial and annual re-certification training, while NMU trained Operational Safety Training officers deliver regular continuation training.

(3) The training package is based primarily upon, and very closely aligned to, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) `Use of Force continuum' model. The package is modified as required by the ACS, in agreement with the AFP, to suit operations in a maritime environment.

(4) NMU seagoing crewmembers are trained to conduct `compliant' (consensual) and `unco-operative' boardings. An unco-operative boarding could very well be conducted without the consent of the Master of a target vessel and depends upon the level of resistance expected. If lethal force is expected from a target vessel or is expected to be used in boarding a target vessel this constitutes a `hostile' boarding situation for which NMU seagoing crewmembers are not trained.

(5) AFP officers, supported by NMU officers, deliver both initial and annual re-certification training. NMU officers trained by the AFP and certified as Operational Safety Training officers deliver regular continuation training.

(6) The training package is based primarily upon, and very closely aligned to, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) `Use of Force continuum' model. The package is modified as required by the ACS, in agreement with the AFP, to suit operations in a maritime environment.