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Thursday, 5 April 1984
Page: 1306


Senator SCOTT (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(3.30) -I intend to adjourn the debate at the conclusion of just a very few words on the subject of surveillance. I think that all Australians should be aware of this enormously important matter which covers a very wide field and which is referable in particular to the north-east, the north-west and the north of this continent. Surveillance is significant in the control of drug trafficking in this country. As we were discussing only a day or two ago, it is equally significant in quarantine terms in the control of various diseases which affect both plant life and animal life. It is also of great significance in our method of combating possible on-shore and off-shore terrorist attacks against facilities in this country. Surveillance also has a relevance to our widespread fishing industry and to the illegal entry of persons to this country.

I believe it is also significant to remind ourselves, as Senator Bjelke- Petersen did, that five States and the Commonwealth itself are of the opinion that the measure of surveillance, generally speaking, is acceptable. Yet, there is equally the view that it is certainly no more than should be expected. We should be concerned that there appears to be a downgrading of surveillance activity, in spite of the encouraging reference by Senator Robertson to the new Sky West Shrike Commander aircraft. My information seems to indicate that this aircraft does not compare favourably with the Nomad aircraft in terms of a capacity to survey the coastline and reach significant distances off-shore and in terms of highly sophisticated radar equipment. Yet the Nomad aircraft has been abandoned for search and control work. As Senator Robertson indicated, there are some reasons for this. However, I wonder why, as I have been advised, no tenders were called. It seems unreal and unreasonable that a decision should have been arrived at without looking at competitors which could supply the equipment necessary to perform the surveillance necessary in that part of Australia. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.