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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2571

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) - I point out to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) what could be described as perhaps the harshness of the clause under consideration and the possibility of reciprocal harshness from other countries. Before the provisions of the legislation can be enforced it will be necessary to ascertain whether a vessel has actually been fishing within 10 miles of the Australian coastline. One can well envisage an international incident arising from a foreign vessel being seized under circumstances which another country might regard as unjust. It is not beyond the realms of possibility, international policies being as they are today, that a charge could be cooked up by some other country that some Australian vessel, which may not even be a fishing vessel, had been fishing inside its territorial waters and the Australian vessel seized. Such a situation could lead to all manner of unfortunate incidents. I think that if the matter is brought before a court and the court decides to confiscate a vessel then to some extent there would be some protection from that type of reciprocal action. It is true that there have been incidents of this character in some of the countries in the Indian Ocean area. In some cases vessels have been seized for purely propaganda purposes. I draw this matter to the attention of the Minister to illustrate perhaps one of the unpleasant aspects of too harsh a law that he may not have yet considered.

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