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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 12961

Senator McGAURAN (2:13 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison. Will the minister update the Senate on the strong cooperation between Australia and Indonesia to combat terrorism, people-smuggling and other transnational crimes?

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) —This is a timely question in view of the tragic events that occurred in Jakarta last week. The bombing in Jakarta serves to remind us that we cannot be complacent about the fight against terrorism. Our cooperation with Indonesia in this regard continues. As a result of that bombing, the Prime Minister contacted President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia and offered assistance to that country in relation to this outrageous attack, and he conveyed our condolences to the Indonesian people. The Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Mick Keelty, has been in close touch with General Da'i Bachtiar, the head of the Indonesian police. At the moment we have 23 Australian Federal Police personnel cooperating with Indonesian authorities investigating this outrageous attack. They are at the bomb scene and we have provided experts, forensic and otherwise, in relation to this task.

This follows the close cooperation we have had with Indonesia in the Bali investigations. We saw recently the first conviction and sentencing of one of the people who have been charged with the Bali bombings. Amrozi has now been convicted and sentenced to death and the trials of Samudra and Ali Imron are nearing completion. A further 33 individuals are still to face trial. I stress that the investigation into the Bali bombings is by no means complete. The Australian Federal Police continue to work closely with the Indonesian authorities to bring to justice all perpetrators of the outrageous bombing which occurred last year.

Coincidentally, the day after the Jakarta bombing I was in Fremantle for the formal handover of five patrol boats to the Indonesian police. Commissioner Keelty and I handed over five purpose-built patrol boats to the Indonesian police. These were the subject of a statement by the Prime Minister last year when he announced that this assistance would be given. These vessels are state-of-the-art patrol chase boats, constructed in Western Australia. They can perform up to 15 nautical miles out and have a maximum speed of 45 knots. They are ideal for the purpose for which they are built—chasing transnational criminals, people who smuggle people, guns and drugs. All those things are of vital interest to the region, and especially Australia, when you consider how the Indonesian archipelago and its islands can offer refuge to organised criminals. We believe this is an excellent measure. It indicates the close relationship we have with Indonesian law enforcement.

As well as this, Australia has co-hosted two regional conferences on people-smuggling—last year and this year. They have been very successful in bringing together countries in the region in the fight against people-smuggling and transnational crime. Much has been done but we realise that the fight against terrorism and transnational crime lies before us. We will continue to work closely with the Indonesian government. We value the cooperation we have received to date.