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Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2104

(Question No. 825)

Senator Chipp asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 2 May 1984:

(1) Have Australian naval forces on patrol in the Indian Ocean or waters in the Indo-China region ever come into contact with pirate attacks of Vietnamese refugee boats; if so, what response have Australian naval forces made to such attacks.

(2) Are Australian naval forces acting on any instructions as to what response should be made if such pirate attacks are encountered; if so, what are those instructions.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) There is no record of Australian naval forces having ever come into contact with pirate attacks of Vietnamese refugee boats.

(2) Australian naval forces are given specific instructions concerning the suppression of piracy. Commanding officers are instructed that HMA ships are under a duty to suppress piracy and arrest pirates. The nationality of a pirate ship is irrelevant. The procedure to be followed is:

(a) every means short of direct fire is to be used to stop the pirate attack and arrest the pirate ship;

(b) if it can be done without endangering HMA ship, HMA ship may be interposed between the pirate and its victim; and

(c) if all else fails, including the firing of a warning shot and a warning that direct fire will be commenced, direct fire on the pirate may only be used if approved by the Fleet Commander.