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Thursday, 19 September 1974
Page: 1239

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) - The Minister for Customs and Excise has no doubt seen the many reports of the presence of Indonesian fishing vessels on and near the north-west coast of Australia. Several of these reports have suggested that drugs are being imported by the crews of these vessels. Can the Minister advise whether these suggestions are correct? What action is being taken to ensure that drugs are not being imported in this manner?

Senator MURPHY - In recent months officers of the Department of Customs and Excise have, with the assistance of the defence forces, carried out extensive land, sea and air patrols in the northern areas. During those patrols they have boarded and searched several Indonesian fishing vessels, but no evidence of narcotics or other contraband has been found.

Earlier this month, following a report in the West Australian Press that a deserted airstrip on the northwest coast of Australia was being used as a base for drug smuggling, a party of officers carried out a 3-day search of the area and coast. The officers had the assistance of Aboriginal guides from a nearby mission. Again no evidence was found that the area was being used by smugglers.

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